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Dhillon praises maturity shown by Stoke Green's young side in three-wicket win over North Maidenhead

Stoke Green’s young side showed excellent maturity to deal with the pressure of chasing victory on Saturday, as they held their nerve to beat hosts North Maids by three-wickets.

With their batsmen Eshwar Dutta (45) and Gagan Singh (42) seemingly in fine form, the visitors appeared to be cruising to the target of 183 needed for victory. However, a succession of wickets, three of them going to Jahngir Zaman (3-36) put North Maidenhead right back in the mix and the pressure was mounting on young Pavinder Bhachu and Faaez Shamsi. Thankfully for captain Sukh Dhillon, they both held firm at the crease, making 36no and 24no respectively to get the side to 183-7 with just one over left to play.

“Yeah, it was a close game,” said Dhillon. “I think it was a game where we showed great maturity to see the game home. We were cruising to the target at 90-2 and then had somewhat of a collapse.

“We were seven down and still needed 60, but those two - Bhachu (36no) and Shamsi (24no) – batted with a lot of maturity, even when the rate was ticking up to seven an over. They never panicked and saw the team home with an over to spare.”

Dhillon felt North Maidenhead’s total was an achievable one at the changeover, but on what he described as a tricky pitch with ‘variable bounce’ he couldn’t be certain of claiming victory inside 40 overs. The majority of his side are also in their mid to lower 20s and are only just beginning to find their feet at this level.

“We would have liked to have restricted them to a lower score but a couple of their guys got away a bit towards the end,” he said. “We were still happy to chase 180, but we knew it would be tricky on that pitch with the quality of spinners they have. It was a good target on that pitch which had a bit of variable bounce.

“The average age is about 23/24 and I’m the oldest in the team at 31. It’s really good to see. The guys are there on merit too, it’s not like we’ve pushed them through to give them a chance. It’s good to have that young quality coming through and – after having this year under their belt with no promotion or relegation to worry about – they’ll have invaluable experience going forward.”

Next up for Stoke Green is a home match against Slough 2nds, another side for whom consistency fluctuates from week-to-week. It should prove an interesting contest, with Slough’s 2nd team getting the better of Cookham Dean – relegated from Home Counties Cricket last season - by six wickets on Saturday.

“With our young side we now need to see consistency,” added the skipper. “If they play as well as they did last week I’d be confident they can beat Slough, but they’re still quite young in their adult cricket career.

“Slough have had some up and down results, and it’s always a bit different playing their second team because you don’t know what kind of strength they’re going to be at depending on which players are with their firsts. It will be interesting to see what kind of team they field and we’ve always had good games with them and most of the time have been able to come out on top.

“I was a bit sceptical about some of the rule changes, and how it might change the flow of the game but I think everyone is just happy to be out there and because these are win/lose games are enjoying the games a lot more.”

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Stoke Green are also just one win away from the national rounds of the countrywide Village Knock Out competition.

Last Sunday they produced a record 418 from 40 overs to see off a decent side in Dinton and this weekend they’ll take on Bledlow in the Bucks final for a place in the national rounds. The final of the competition is held every year at Lord’s.

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