The Upminster Hunters moved a step closer to claiming their first Riverside Indoor League title with a tense two wicket win over high flying Wickford at Ingatestone.
Wickford batted first and John Curtis struck early on to remove the dangerous Danny Pryke, thanks to a sharp catch from Mike Larke, before Wickford then made steady progress. Ellis Pickering’s introduction into the attack tilted the game Upminster’s way as he claimed two victims in his first over. Elder brother Louis then executed an excellent run out to leave Wickford in trouble at 32-4. Andrew Metcalfe survived a dropped catch and then looked to be moving his side towards a competitive total, but he lost partner McKenna to another run out and was then cleaned up himself, by Curtis, as Wickford were dismissed for 57.
Larke fell early in the Upminster reply and with the Wickford bowlers keeping things tight, Terry Wyatt was also dismissed as McKenna held on to a sharp return catch to leave the score on 18-2. Pickering Senior was still there at the other end and reached the retirement mark with a six and four to the back wall and captain Nicky Ison and Curtis then inched Upminster towards the victory line. They were both bowled in quick succession and nine runs were still needed when Louis Pickering returned to the crease to join younger brother Ellis. Five runs were then needed from the final over and after a wide delivery first up Louis Pickering smashed the next ball to the back wall to secure an important victory.
The Hunters will face Broomhill Wanderers on the 10th March and know that a win in that game will secure them the title.
Before that, this Sunday (March 3rd) the Tandoori Boys will play Galleywood and they also know that a win will take them to the Division Two title, and also promotion to the top flight for the 2019/2020 season.
And then on 17th March both the Hunters and Tandoori Boys will be in Cup action as the season concludes with Finals Day for both the Senior and Junior Cup competitions.