The 3rd XI welcomed Stockport Trinity in the second of three t20 group matches. Mersey won the toss and elected to bat on what looked a good track and damp outfield.
Rob Lisney opened up with Billy Haywood and it was another solid start with 34 for the first wicket. Rob did the bulk of the scoring until Billy (3) was bowled off his pads and this brought Mo Malik to the crease. On a slow track with even slower bowling Mo took his time to get in but once he did he upped the pace brilliantly scoring the bulk of his 52 in boundaries. Rob (39) fell before the partnership could get properly going spooning a leading edge up to cover. With 6 overs to go Mersey were on 85 and the returning Usman Tarar in the middle to partner Mo. In true Usman fashion reluctant singles were punctuated with boundaries in his way to 16 before he and Mo both perished to big shots. Vice captain Dave flisk did his best to keep the score down until Shazhad on his Mersey debut came in with 2 balls of the innings remaining. A crisp 4 and tracer like 6 later and the innings closed on 144-4 a decent total on a slow track.
Opening the bowling for Mersey was Pat glare who found impressive pace but struggled with his rhythm. From the other end Jack critten picked up from the week before with a miserly opening spell of just 3 runs from 3 overs including the rarest of T20 phenomena, a maiden over! What was always going to be a tough chase for trinity was made infinitely harder when both openers were run out in quick succession following a bout of communication difficulties between the batsmen. With both ends open the skipper unleashed his spinners on the slow track. Debutant Shazhad showing great consistency to finish with 2-18 off his 4 overs and Ali Raza had the batsmen in knots from tel he start to claim 1-13. By this time the game was won and it was left to Ben isaacs and Aman Raza to finish off with Ben claiming 3-25. I the end Trinity finished on 95-8 to hand Mersey a comfortable win and set up a winner takes all clash at Didsbury on bank holiday Monday.
Monday arrived with Mersey in confident mood having seen Didsbury have a close game against Stockport the previous day. Rob won the toss and elected to field with Pat Glare again opening the bowling doing a sterling job against the quality Didsbury openers. At the other end Haroon, recalled to the side struggled for consistency but stoked a moment of controversy appearing to have Ward caught behind only for the batsmen to stand his ground and the umpire remain motionless. Tempers flared at the perceived injustice and matters only got worse for Mersey as both openers freed their arms on the way to a quick fire opening partnership of 102. It took the introduction of Ali Raza and Jack Critten into the attack to finally slow the Didsbury onslaught. Ali had both openers out in quick succession to cap a fine spell which produced figures of 2-22. At the other end Jack returned 1-27 off his overs as Mersey managed to claw the innings back and limit Didsbury to 160-3 off their overs.
On another pitch that seemed to favour the slower bowlers Rob and Billy opened up again. The Didsbury opening bowlers showed the quality that you would expect and after an uncharacteristically loose first over from Enam he had Rob caught behind the 1st ball of his 2nd. Mo came to the crease and also struggled with the accuracy of the Didsbury bowling to get any momentum to the innings. Wickets fell at regular intervals and despite the best efforts of Usman with 26 off 19 balls (including a 6 straight onto Charlie’s windscreen) Mersey were never up with the rate. Shabaz (23) and Jack (12) did their best but in the end Mersey could only muster 107-6 and so the curtain fell on their involvement in the cup for this year.
Next week the 3’s start their league campaign aiming for an immediate return to the premier division. They entertain Didsbury 4’s at home looking to get off to a winning start.