Xavier ton takes Rainhill top
Panchu Xavier's century extends Rainhill's unbeaten start
Rainhill 232-3 (Panchu Xavier 132*, Neil Robinson 34*; John Rigby 2-50) Ainsdale 139 (James Fazackerly 39, Luke Jones 23; Mike Mercer 3-17)
Rainhill (25 pts) beat Ainsdale (4 pts) by 93 runs
Rainhill climbed to the top of the league table following a 93 run victory at Ainsdale. The win - Rainhill's fourth in five matches - came courtesy of a sensational century from Panchu Xavier and an excellent team performance in the field. On a sunny but blustery afternoon Rainhill won the toss and elected to bat. After
comfortably beating Ainsdale a few weeks previously, the home team appeared to have
been strengthened in anticipation of a tough match. Steve Bell, on the back of an excellent
59 at Northern, was promoted up the order and opened the batting alongside Panchu Xavier. The home side struck early, bowling Bell for 4, with an unplayable in-swinger that seemed to keep low and nipped away clipping off stump. Paul Millar joined Panchu at the crease and the pair quickly put Rainhill in the driving seat. Millar hit some lovely drives for four and looked comfortably in control until holing out to Oliver Eccles at long on for 29. Ethan Powell came in at 4 and, while Xavier was motoring - quickly getting to 50 at
more than a run a ball - Powell seemed to struggle, eventually being dismissed for 22 well-earned runs. With the score on 142-3 and Xavier still undefeated on 79, Neil Robinson came to the middle with instructions to make some quick runs. Robinson duly obliged adding 34 from just 26 balls.
It was Xavier who stole the show however, putting on a further 53 to finish on 132 not out. This came from 114 ballswith 108 runs coming from boundaries (21 fours and 4 sixes) - it was a truly sensational and brutal knock.
Captain Matt Lawler declared with the team on 232-3 off just 36.5 overs. In response, Ainsdale made a slow start with the bat. John Ball, finding the right length immediately,
removed the opening pair of Peter Wildish (who’d made two consecutive 80s in their two
previous games) and Thomas Houghton, for just 5 and 4 respectively. James Fazakerly hit
some crunching fours before being bowled on 39 by the blisteringly quick Mike
Mercer, who was the pick of Rainhill’s bowlers finishing with 7 overs, 1 maiden, 3 for 17.
This match saw the return of David Pennington who bowled superbly and was unlucky not
to take more wickets. He returned impressive figures of 8.4 overs, 4 maidens, 2 for for 25.
Paul Millar struck with his first ball, serving up an unplayable delivery to remove the
tenacious Luke Jones for 23. Adam Lawler and Steve Bell also took a wicket a piece and the
home side were all out for 139 – as yet the highest total posted against Rainhill’s 3rds this
season. Rainhill's fielding was superb throughout the afternoon, and some quality catches were taken: Paul Millar caught Jacob Lucas at extra cover, while John Ball took two brilliant catches: Oliver Eccles at mid off and John Rigby at point. Matt Pennington, standing in for the injured Sam Addy, saved a lot of runs with his athleticism on the third man/fine leg boundary.
After five matches Rainhill are unbeaten in 2022 and will visit second-placed Lytham on Sunday.