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Rainhill hold out in heat for draw

Recreationals earn creditable draw at Hightown St Mary's.

Hightown St Mary's 201-2 (Nikhil Bhatnagar 31*, Paul Slater 31*; Anna Page 1-26)

Rainhill 106-6 (Mark Nulty 24, Simon Gibson 22; Caleb Slater 3-10)

Match drawn Scorecard Rainhill played out for a draw against a talented Hightown St Mary's development side on Sunday afternoon.

In near-tropical conditions and with a drinks break every ten overs, the teams survived the extreme heat but neither was able to find a way to win.

Hightown St Mary's batted first and it didn't take long for Rainhill to make the breakthrough. Simon Gibson, who has bowled well without much success in recent games, took the first wicket when he found the top edge of Caleb Slater's bat and wicketkeeper Andrew Page held a sensational diving catch. In spite of some accurate bowling from Gibson and Andy Jones, Rainhill were not able to make further progress against Paul Slater and Nikhil Bhatnagar, who played intelligently, taking the score past 80 before they retired (it was agreed that players would retire on reaching 30).

Luke Fitzsimmons and Zaki Ali then came to the crease and their more biligerent approach helped Hightown St Mary's accelerate in spite of the efforts of Rainhill's bowlers. Fitzsimmons and Ali also retired and were replaced by Jamie O'Rourke and Aaron Graham. Rainhill were rewarded with a second wicket when O'Rourke attempted to play a delivery from Anna Page over mid-wicket but only succeeded in finding substitute fielder Paul Slater. There were a few chances for Rainhill but they were unable to take them as the hosts closed their innings on 201 for 2.

Rainhill lost opener Andy Jones early, but recovered well with Simon Gibson (22) and Mark Nulty (24) playing some excellent shots in a second wicket stand worth 57. It was probably Gibson's most assured innings since joining the club at the start of the season and some of his strokes were a joy to watch. The entertainment was cut short when he edged a delivery from Aaron Graham to Nick Gordon.

Rainhill were determined to play positively and Andrew Page was next in. He and Nulty looked to score quick runs but both were undone in quick succession by a couple of superb in-swinging yorkers from Caleb Slater. Those wickets changed the course of the game and from that point Rainhill opted to play for the draw rather than chase after runs. Anna Page, Ian Mosquito and Joe Crossley withstood some probing bowling in the heat to secure a second successive draw for the Recreationals. Many thanks to Hightown St Mary's for hosting the game and the spirit in which it was played.

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