Sam Kershaw and Tyler McGladdery help earn dramatic win over Wigan
Rainhill 308-1 (Tyler McGladdery 151*, Sam Kershaw 101*; Charles Taylor 1-95) Wigan 299 (Joe Burrows 70, Jordan Hampson 47; Sam Kershaw 6-77) Rainhill (25 pts) beat Wigan (5 pts) by 9 runs Scorecard
Rainhill secured a fifth win from their last six league matches thanks to personal best performances from Sam Kershaw (pictured) and Tyler McGladdery.
McGladdery hit a 143-ball 151 not out - his highest score to date for Rainhill - while Kershaw chipped in with an unbeaten century of his own before taking six wickets. Not only was this Kershaw's first ever five-wicket haul, his wickets were crucial in securing an incredible victory for the hosts.
Wigan won the toss and put Rainhill in to bat. The home side got off to a fantastic start with McGladdery and Mike Rotheram playing confidently and fluently from the outset. They had put on 107 for the first wicket before Rotheram was bowled Charles Taylor for 41, but this was to prove little more than a minor setback to Rainhill. Kershaw and McGladdery once again demonstrated their liking for the big shots, picking off pace and spin alike and they drove beautifully - and sometimes extravagantly - to the boundary.
After McGladdery had passed 150 and Kershaw had recorded his first league century of the season, Rainhill declared with the score on 308 for 1. A successful chase of a target over 300 seemed unlikely, but cricket is an extraordinary game and victory did not come as easily as the home side would have hoped.
Rainhill's bowlers had to work hard on a reasomably placid pitch. After a positive start, Wigan's openers Charles Taylor (30) and Jake Leyland (24) fell to Imliwati Lemtur and Liam O'Toole respectively, leaving Wigan on 54 for 2. However, Joe Burrows injected some urgency into Wigan's innings and, supported firstly by Aaron Redmond (8) and then by John Richardson (27) helped his side progress towards the target at a steady rate. Burrows' excellent innings came to an end when, on 70, he was bowled by Sam Kershaw; at 161-5 it seemed that Wigan's challenge had faltered.
However, the loss of Burrows did little to diminish Wigan's charge and the next pair - Daniel Yates and Jordan Hampson - threw caution to the win as they chased the seemingly impossible target. Rainhill struggled to contain the Wigan duo as they scored at an alarming rate, playing expansive and ambitious shots that threatened to turn the match in the visitors' favour. Kershaw struck to remove Yates, but not before the Wigan batsman had hit 36 from a mere 22 balls. With Hampson still at the crease, anything seemed possible.
Wigan continued to advance, but the match turned on a dramatic catch from James Clarke at deep square leg. Hampson played a shot that looked destined for the boundary but Clarke made a remarkable low take to dismiss him three runs short of his half-century. There was still work to do, however, especially with Patrick Howley (batting at 9) playing some ostentatious shots of his own.
Imliwati Lemtur took his third wicket of the afternoon when Patrick Fairhurst was caught by Liam O'Toole. Wigan, on 293 for 9, required 16 more runs, with Rainhill needing one wicket. However, time was running out for both teams and, with three overs left, all possible results seemed as equally likely.
Wigan weren't going to settle for a draw and Howley continued to make his presence felt, hitting another boundary as Wigan moved within a run of the 300 mark. However, with eight balls left, Adam Samouelle was deceived by Kershaw's spin and the ball found a way to the stumps, bringing an end to a remarkable match.
Rainhill will be pleased with their efforts but credit should go to Wigan for making a real match of this. It is doubtful whether Victoria Terrace has witnessed a better contest for many seasons. Ultimately it was a match that neither side arguably deserved to lose and one that will be remembered for all the right reasons. Umpires: Peter Crook, Alistair Davies
Scorers: Neil Girvin, Andrew Finney
Match ball sponsor: Black Swan Tax Advisers