Lebens boosts MAL's title hopes
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A fine all-round performance from Yoav Lebens took MAL four points clear at the top of Middlesex Sunday League Division Two following a crushing 185-run success over Finchley.
Finchley won the toss and asked MAL to make first use of a very wet and uneven looking surface. Batting was tricky throughout, Daniel Susser being the first batsman to go, nicking Jaimin Patel behind for 0.
Debutant Ryan Pakter joined Mark Landau at the crease and they constructed a calm partnership of 39, with both striking impressive boundaries before Landau was run out by a direct hit from the square leg fielder for 17.
Lebens was in at 4, and again showed his growing maturity with a well-paced and watchful innings, interlaced with some crisp stroke-play. His partnership with Pakter was worth 34 before Pakter was also run out by a direct hit
Pakter's dismissal saw Lebens up his scoring rate, and he raced to his half century from 35 balls (9x4) before being caught behind by Joseph Greenwall-Cohen off left-arm spinner Paul Donovan for 51. He was followed swiftly by Pakter, LBW for 9, to leave the score at 124-5, with the prospect of a sub-par total looming.
A fantastic partnership of 60 between Brad Sacher and Marc Mer ensured that MAL would post something competitive. Both were watchful at times, but swift to punish the bad ball. Mer was eventually caught for 23 off the bowling of Ali Sayed, but Oscar Brodkin added some impetus to the closing overs with 19 not out off 15 balls.
Sacher fell for 28 but MAL were able to reach 220-8 from their 40 overs which seemed a more than competitive total.
Quite how competitive MAL's total was became quickly clear at the start of Finchley's innings. Lebens and Oscar Brodkin swung the new ball prodigiously, and with the pitch drying, batting proved extremely difficult.
No runs came off the bat until the fifth over, by which point Finchley were already one wicket down, Lebens having bowled Dylan Baxendale for 0.
With the score on nine in the eighth over, Brodkin trapped Greenwall-Cohen LBW for a tortuous 21 ball duck.
In the next over Ali Sayed, having looked to be aggressive was run out going for a second thanks to a strong throw from the boundary by Grant Pakter to brother Ryan Pakter who whipped off the bails.
Thereafter it was a bit of a procession, as all the batsmen found the MAL bowlers too hot to handle. Finchley were soon 20-7 in the 13th over, as first Brodkin bowled Jaimin Patel for 1, Lebens dismissed Peter Bampton-Clare for 1, had Matt St Claire LBW for 0, and then Jason Dias LBW for 1.
It was not long before Lebens picked up his fifth, Paul Wetherley another LBW victim for 0. Lebens was to finish with the superb figures of 8-5-12-5, his first five-wicket haul in any form of cricket, and extremely well deserved.
Brodkin finished with 2-12 from his eight overs, with only two runs off the bat.
There was no let up for the Finchley batsmen with the end of the opening bowlers' spells, as Jon Begner and Michael Klinger also bowled impressively. Begner was to wrap up the innings in his third over, taking the wickets of Paul Donovan for 1, and Shiva Bhagat next ball for 0, both clean bowled.
Finchley were all out for 35, with only 15 runs having come off the bat.
The win puts MAL in prime position for promotion with a strong chance of a push for the Division Two title.