Blackheath maintained their 15-point lead over Sandwich Town at the top of the Kent Cricket League Premier Division table with a three-wicket win at Bexley.
The hosts won the toss but Jahid Ahmed and Tanweer Sikander (6-38) bowled with strict discipline, beating the bat on numerous occasions.
While Ahmed’s skill would go unrewarded, the same could not be said of Sikander, pictured above.
He trapped South African opener Christopher Laas LBW in his second over but saved his heroics for his fourth.
Within the space of four balls he used a combination of late swing and immaculate seam to strike the top of off stump on each occasion.
This trio of wickets included two current Scottish Internationals – Matt Cross and Calum MacLeod, who scored 52 and 140 respectively during their recent win against England.
Sikander took two more wickets to leave Bexley 40-6 after 16 overs.
At this point, it looked like a short game was on the cards. But as the pitch flattened and the other bowlers struggled to find any demons in the pitch, batting was looking easier and easier.
The Bexley lower order held their nerve and all made significant contributions as 40-6 became 109-8 and then 218 all out.
Blackheath had failed to capitalise on their magnificent start and some lax fielding, undisciplined bowling and a very flat batting track led to a feeling of frustration as they trudged off for tea.
In reality, 218 seemed well under par especially when George Wells and Shahzaib Hassan were both set after 10 overs at the crease.
Wells’ intentions were summarised by his first-ball pull-shot, a one bounce four straight into the pavilion.
However, as on so many occasions this season, the top order were to get in and then fail to make any big scores.
Important contributions of 52, 15 and 36 for Wells, Hassan and Sikander were made but plenty was still left to be done.
Reports from the middle were that the pitch was starting to misbehave and a combination of keeping low and sharp bounce from a length meant that the worst of the conditions were certainly at present.
After Jason Benn ran out Marcus Speller for one, it was clear that Blackheath had a lot to do.
Mehdi Abbas (14) and Chris Willetts (0), at which point Blackheath were 152-6, requiring 70 runs from the final 13 overs.
Jahid Ahmed came to the crease and a magnificent partnership kept the run rate hovering at around six an over.
With 21 needed from the final three overs, one big over would be enough and as Ahmed crashed the ball to the boundary twice, victory was within clear sight.
Richard Fleming departed for 41 when one was still needed and Joe Kerridge marched to the crease dispatching the ball over mid-wicket.
Ahmed finished 38 not out.
Blackheath welcome last season’s champions Beckenham to The Rectory Field on Saturday.
IMAGE BY KEITH GILLARD
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