The road to Wigan cheer
Rainhill move up to second place after 5-wicket win
Wigan 74 (John Richardson 24, Jordan Hampson 21; Peter Kelly 7-18)
Rainhill 76-5 (Tyler McGladdery 46*, Rob McKeown 11*; Vinay Choudhary 3-31)
Rainhill (25 pts) beat Wigan (2 pts) by 5 wickets
Rainhill moved up to second place in the LDCC Premier League following a five-wicket victory at sixth-placed Wigan.
The visitors' success was due largely to the bowling heroics of Peter Kelly, who took 7 for 18, and the bat of Tyler McGladdery which produced another steadly flow of runs under pressure.
Wigan batted first after winning the toss and, while Liam O'Toole removed opener Charles Taylor for 7, the second wicket partnership of John Richardson and Jordan Hampson took the score to 50. The duo had created a solid base from which to push on and there was little indication at this stage of the drama that was to follow.
With spinners David Atkinson and Peter Kelly (pictured) introduced into the attack, Richardson drove loosely at a delivery from Kelly and was caught by Jack Lowrie for 24. Shortly afterwards Hampson was deceived by a ball from Atkinson that clattered into his stumps and Wigan were on 54 for 3. The loss of these two wickets triggered a major collapse as Kelly skittled out the middle and lower order virtually single-handedly with with surprising ease. His second wicket came when he took a return catch from his own bowling to remove Jake Leyland; a couple of overs later he took an astonishing three wickets in four balls as VInay Choudhary, Joe Burrows and Patrick Howley all failed to resist his virtually unplayable spin.
Staring down the barrel at 64 for 7, things got worse for Wigan when Kelly firstly bowled Jack Maddocks for 0 and then had Joshua Boyden caught and bowled for 4. Atkinson wrapped up the innings when Sean Evans was held by Sam Kershaw.
A target of 75 did not look unduly demanding, but on a pitch that was never going to be a joy for batsmen Rainhill made heavy weather of the chase. Joshua Boyden bowled James Clarke for 4, after which Tyler McGladdery and Sam Kershaw sought to take control. Kershaw perished when, on 10, he was bowled by left-arm spinner Vinay Choudhary. Choudhary had Mike Rotheram out, ajudged lbw, two balls later and suddenly - with the score on 23 for 3 - Rainhill's procession to victory looked in doubt.
Captain Ben Edmundson was in next and he and McGladdery shared a partnership of 20, of which Edmundson contributed 1 from the 23 balls he faced. Although finding it tough to score on a difficult surface and against quality spin, Edmundson was able to stay in and allow McGladdery to play his strokes. The captain eventually became Choudhary's third victim of the afternoon when he was trapped lbw. David Atkinson, batting at six, was also out quickly, caught by Patrick Howley off the bowling of John Richardson for 3. At 46 for 5 any outcome seemed possible, especially with Choudhary's wizardry creating all kinds of problems for Rainhill's batsmen.
As in the match against Northern, Tyler McGladdery was able to remain focused and play shots while wickets around him tumbled. On reaching 18, McGladdery passed the milestone of 500 runs in the league this season and continued to show why he is such a natural matchwinner. Some of the contests between McGladdery and bowlers have been akin to a kitten wrestling with a lion and, once he has played himself in, he is incredibly difficult to budge. He thrives under pressure and was soon timing the ball perfectly. While others struggled against Choudhary's probing spin, McGladdery was more than equal to it. Indeed, his dexterity and agility are perhaps most obvious when playing spinners, and some of his placement was outstanding.
McGladdery and Rob McKeown (11 not out) applied the finishing touches and ensured Rainhill reached their target without further loss of wickets. McGladdery's unbeaten 46 had come from 54 balls - quite an achievement in the context of a match in which scoring was difficult.
The win takes Rainhill into second place behind Northern, who lost to Wallasey. If Rainhill can maintain this position, or even improve on it, it would represent their highest ever finish since being promoted to the Premier League. There is still much to play for, but there's also quite a bit to get excited about.
Umpires: John Farrell, Dave Laybourne
Scorers: Neil Girvin, Andrew Finney
Match ball sponsor: Black Swan Tax