Rainhill in friendly win over Widnes
Widnes 187-7 (Ali Chugtai 48, Rohan Luthra 47; Sam Waine 3-17)
Rainhill 189-6 (Sam Kershaw 74, Paul Ford 31; Ali Chughtai 2-12)
Rainhill won by 4 wickets
Rainhill's 1st XI got off to a winning start in 2022 with a friendly win at neighbours Widnes.
Rainhill won the toss and put the home side in to bat. Jack Lowrie made the early breakthrough when he dismissed opener Chris Kirby for 1. However, Widnes recovered from the early setback as Ali Chughtai and Matt Burns took the score to 58 before the latter was deceived by Peter Kelly's spin and was stumped by Daniel Woodward for 27. Chughtai was then joined by Rothan Luthra and the pair played aggressively as they forged a purposeful partnership - Chughtai hit four sixes and Luthra two as Widnes charged past the 100 mark.
Having helped to take his team to 114-2, Chughtai fell just short of what would have been a well-earned half-century - caught by captain Ben Edmundson off the bowling of James Clarke for 48. Luthra stayed around for while and helped move the visitors onto 160 before he also perished agonisingly short of his 50 to give former Sefton Park player Daniel Kelly his first wicket in a Rainhill shirt.
Sam Waine, newly recruited from Prescot & Odyssey, looks a good acquisition on the basis of his performance, taking 3 for 17 in six overs.
Widnes finished their 40 overs on 187-7. In pursuit, Rainhill lost the wicket of opener James Clarke (0) early, but Tyler McGladdery (20) and Sam Kershaw rallied. McGladdery looked in the kind of form he showed early last year until he was bowled by Jonathan Osborne. Kershaw (pictured) resisted some probing Widnes bowling, and was joined by Ben Edmundson (18), Rob McKeown (25) and Paul Ford (31) as the visitors steadily moved towards the target. It was a solid innings from Kershaw, who played sensibly and looked unmovable until, with the team needing just eight more runs to win, he was trapped lbw for 74 by Chughtai. Brothers Daniel and Peter Kelly saw Rainhill across the finish line.
It's difficult to draw too many conclusions from pre-season friendlies, but Rainhill should be pleased with their performance against an accomplished Widnes team. Sam Kershaw showed his value at number 3, Rainhill's middle order performed positively and Sam Waine looked very much at home.
Rainhill travel to Wallasey for their next friendly match and will host Southport and Birkdale at Victoria Terrace on the opening day of the league season.