MAL kicked off their 2011 Middlesex Sunday League campaign with loss in a tight game at SKLP in Division Two.
The hosts won the toss and elected to bat. Yoav Lebens and Yoni Schurder opened the bowling and were exceptional early on, repeatedly beating the bat, and with edges flying past the slips. Yoav bowled his eight-over spell straight through, and was extremely unlucky not to pick up a couple of wickets. Yoni worked hard up the hill, and was replaced by Michael Klinger, who captured the first wicket, Matthew Plax holding the catch at point.
Schurder, having returned to replace Yoav, took the second wicket, Gav Lebens taking the catch at extra cover off Ricky Halai.
SKLP crept to 60-2 after 20 overs. Wickets fell at regular intervals throughout the second half of the innings, with vice-captain Mark Landau picking up two down the hill, Plax taking a smart catch at gulley, and Andy Hillel taking a skim catch at mid-off.
Gav Lebens then had top-scorer Patel LBW for 29. Run-outs accounted for the 7th and 8th wickets, thanks to smart work from Grant Pakter, who impressed in his first bowl for the club, and Chris Tomaszewski, deputising behind the stumps.
Landau bowled well in the death overs and picked up two more wickets, thanks to good catching from Gav Lebens and Tomaszewski.
SKLP finished on 180, a total that included 36 extras, a total that MAL were confident of chasing down.
With the outfield sluggish, runs were tough to come by in the reply. MAL were to lose a couple of early wickets, Manzoor dismissed for 2, and Yoav Lebens for 11 to leave MAL 29-2 after 5 overs. Thereafter some tight bowling restricted the scoring rate.
Andy Hillel worked hard for his 14 before being caught, and thereafter a pattern emerged, six MAL batsmen getting to double figures, but only Mark Landau going on. There were partnerships of 36, 37 and 33 for the 3rd, 4th and 5th wickets - had one of these gone on, a MAL victory would have been all but certain.
After 30 overs MAL needed 59 with six wickets in hand. Grant Pakter was stumped for 3, just after having had to call for a runner due to a leg injury. In the next over Landau looked to pull Varsani for a boundary, but managed only to find the man on the square leg boundary. He had battled hard for his 65 from 99 balls (4x4s).
Though Yoni Schurder and then Gav Lebens each struck two boundaries, SKLP bowled well at the end, and MAL were unable to get the runs required.
A defeat, but plenty of positives to take into next week's game with Wycombe House.