A MAGNIFICENT hat-trick completed St Annes CC professional Dinuk Hettiarachchi’s third seven-wicket haul of the month, as the Northern Premier League leaders defeated Preston by four wickets at Vernon Road on Saturday.
It was the sixth straight win for Andy Kellett’s championship chasers, and their ninth in 10 matches – the other being a washout against Netherfield.
This latest success enabled St Annes to stretch their lead in division one to 23 points, as the second v third clash between Leyland and Chorley was drawn at Fox Lane.
Preston made a respectable 186 all out in 49.3 overs, after choosing to bat, with an even better total looking likely as they reached 84-1.
Opening batsman Sajid Patel made a patient 54 from 99 balls, with two fours and a six, before Preston professional Saeed Bariwala made his second 50 of the season, with a powerful innings of 60 from 62 balls (six fours and three sixes).
Preston’s progress was restricted by yet another masterful spell of slow left arm bowling by Sri Lankan Hettiarachchi, who took his sixth haul of five or more wickets this season, to finish with figures of 7-49 from 24.3 uninterrupted overs.
Hettiarachchi brought the Preston innings to a close in sensational style, dismissing Bariwala, and then Preston wicketkeeper Charlie Williams and newcomer Afsar Nagolia for golden ducks.
Wicketkeeper Duncan Whalley also excelled, with six dismissals to extend his lead in the league’s table for most victims behind the stumps.
Preston captain Lukman Vahaluwala made St Annes fight hard for their victory, with a testing spell of 4-48 from 15.2 overs, but solid batting from former Pakistan international Atiq Uz-Zaman, with 55 from 77 balls (seven fours, two sixes) and young Nathan Armstrong, 53 from 81 balls (eight fours and a six, saw St Annes home with 4.4 overs remaining.
Blackpool’s hopes continue to fade fast after three successive defeats against leading clubs.
Morecambe climbed to third after beating Paul Danson’s side by 21 runs in bowler-friendly conditions.
The home side struggled to 143-8 from their 50 overs, as skipper Mark Woodhead anchored the innings with a steady 48, before becoming one of Blackpool professional Con De Lange’s five wickets.
De Lange bowled his left arm spin with superb control to pick up his first five-wicket haul in the NPL, taking 5-51 from 22 overs.
Despite always being ahead of the run rate, Blackpool were then dismissed for 122 inside 39.
Anwar Ali proved to be the match winner for the home side with 5-39, and he was ably supported by the rejuvenated Jono Gates with 4-53.
Richard Gleeson made a career-best unbeaten 42 but ran out of partners batting number eight. Apart from De Lange’s 37, there was nothing else to write home about in the Blackpool batting.
Despite their NPL woes, Blackpool remain unbeatable in twenty20.
Already through to finals day in the league’s Jamie Heywood T20, Paul Danson’s side made it four wins out of four in their group with a 36-run derby victory at St Annes on Friday.
In a match reduced to 10 overs each, Blackpool’s 90-3 was highlighted by Andy Furniss’ unbeaten, 38 off 23 balls, including six fours, on his return from injury.
The St Annes reply never got going and ground to a halt at 54-8 as Matthew Middlehurst, Furniss and Craig Brown each took two wickets.
New Zealand Test player Jamie How followed up his 100 in the Readers Cup with a magnificent 158 not out to set a new Kendal batting record in their 132-run victory over Fleetwood at Broadwater on Saturday.
How, a veteran of 19 Tests and 41 ODIs, hit seven fours and a remarkable 13 sixes in his 151-ball innings.
Fleetwood pro Ryan Smith was smashed for 109 from 12 overs, but at least picked up three wickets.
Such was How’s domination of the Kendal innings that the next-best score was 18.
A shell shocked Fleetwood were then dismissed for 105 in 39.3 overs, with Kendal captain Chris Miller taking 4-38 and Stuart Parkin 3-44. Opener Adam Sharrocks was the only player to hang around for the bottom club, scoring 30.
Blackpool Seconds moved up to third in division two with a 37-run victory over Morecambe at Stanley Park.
Jarred Bain’s 58 helped the home side post 153-8, before Morecambe were removed for 116 (Kevin Reid 3-26).
The Preston v St Annes and Kendal v Fleetwood matches were abandoned without a ball being bowled.