Stoke Green ruthlessly punish rivals to underline promotion ambitions

Stoke Green restricted Saturday's opponents Beaconsfield to just 131 runs and ruthlessly chased it down in just 25 overs for a seven-wicket win to underline their promotion credentials once again in Thames Valley League Division 1.

Green should have been promoted last season, after a historic campaign that not only saw them crowned Division 1 champions, but also lift the Julian Cup and reach the semi-finals of the National Village Cup.

However, their elevation to the Home Counties Cricket League was denied due to ground grading criteria inadequacies which they'll hope to rectify this season should they put themselves in a position to challenge for the title once again.

Saturday's seven-wicket win was a pleasing and confident start for new captain Gagan Singh, with new overseas star Imran Khan Junior - the former Pakistani professional - keeping Beaconsfield hemmed in with his accurate seam bowling (2-25). Backed up by the also excellent Jamie Odell (0-25), the visitors were restricted to 131 in 47.2 overs.

Having laid the groundwork, they then stepped aside to allow Zulfi Butt (5-12) and Gurveer Singh (3-19) to sweep up most of the wickets. In reply Hash Hussain made 47 and Simranjeet Singh finished on 31 not out as Green cantered to victory in 25.1 overs.

It's likely they'll face a tougher test in their next match at Eversley, who hammered 326 - 9 to beat Falkland by 238 runs in their opening game, but Singh believes his players will be up for the challenge.

Reflecting on Saturday's efforts, he said: “It was very pleasing and a very good start to the season.

“We got the win we were looking for and it was highly deserved. I'm very happy with the effort which the boys put in over the weekend.

“We won the toss and having Imran (Khan Junior) we wanted to field first in the overcast conditions. But that changed very quickly, and it became a nice, sunny day.

“He still bowled well, and the batsmen couldn’t touch him.

“They got off to a good start, not scoring quickly but they were diligent but when we made the breakthrough it all started to happen for us.

“They batted 48 overs and they tried to score but they were not able to against our spinners. We restricted them to 131 and we chased it down in 25 overs. They stayed on the pitch for a long time, but they found it hard to score.”

Stoke Green have one of the most feared spin attacks in the league, however, with Imran Khan Junior added to their ranks this summer, they may now have a seam attack capable of matching it and that is a frightening prospect for their promotion rivals.

He added: “We’ve got a quality seam attack with Imran and Jamie Odell, used to playing Minor Counties before when he was younger.

“Our spin attack has always been good in this league, and we rely on it in most of our games. But now we have Jamie Odell alongside Imran, who is helping him with his bowling. I think we will be able to achieve and get more with our seam attack.

“Later in games our spinners are always very hopeful, and they make a big impact.

Looking ahead to Saturday's trip to Eversley, Singh added: “Most of our boys didn’t get a chance to bat so we’re looking forward to our next game. We’re playing Eversley who scored 326 in their first game at Falkland.

“Every game on Saturday was different. Three of the teams got over 250, one of the teams scored less than 100, there were some surprising results. I was expecting challenging games but let’s see what happens in the coming weeks because every team is different, and we must play to our best to beat every team.”

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