A SECOND successive seven-wicket haul by professional Dinuk Hettiarachchi helped St Annes achieve Northern Premier League bragging rights with a nailbiting three-wicket home win over Blackpool.
It saw Andy Kellett’s side stretch their lead at the top of division one to 15 points, as they made amends for the previous evening’s twenty20 defeat by Fleetwood.
St Annes sealed victory over Blackpool with five balls to spare, to take full advantage of the draw between second and third-placed Leyland and Netherfield.
Sri Lankan spinner Hettiarachchi followed his 7-31 against Lancashire Colts with 7-60 off 25 overs to restrict Blackpool to 168-8.
Opener John Mounsey top-scored with 41 off 99 balls, and pro Con De Lange hit 25 before he was bowled by his St Annes counterpart.
In-form De Lange, who told The Gazette last week he hoped to see major improvements in his bowling as he regains his rhythm after injury, will be pleased with his 3-48 and Steven Mercer took 2-54 as Blackpool fought hard to defend their total. However, St Annes wicketkeeper Duncan Whalley followed up his three catches with an unbeaten 32 off 73 balls, to ease the tension as his side edged home.
Another tense game was staged at Chorley’s Windor Park, where visitors Fleetwood were beaten by a single wicket.
Adam Parker hit a superb 69 off 101 balls, including 13 fours, after his side had been reduced to 63-5.
Pro Ryan Smith supplied the fireworks with five fours and four sixes in his 48 off 43 balls, the pair adding 61 in 31 minutes.
Smith then produced a spell of hostile fast bowling to finish with 4-81 off 19.2 overs and Parker finished an excellent all-round performance with 3-41 off 13 overs.
But Chorley earned 12 points after Billy Smith hit the winning boundary off the pro in a tense finish.
Opener Stu Naden hit 42 off 73 balls, but after Chorley slipped to 97-6 Iain Critchley (34 off 28 balls) and Ian Oakes (24 off 41) turned the game with a stand of 53 in 29 minutes.
Parker was Fleetwood’s hero in Friday’s thrilling last-ball victory at Vernon Road in the Jamie Heywood Twenty20 Cup.
Parker held his nerve to hit Hettiarachchi for four and earn his side a sensational six-wicket win. Parker hit an unbeaten 64 off only 47 balls in Fleetwood’s successful chase, Mark Wilkinson weighing in with 34 off 21 balls, which included three sixes.
Earlier Atiq Uz-Zaman bolstered St Annes’ innings of 143-9 with a superb 78 off 46 balls, featuring nine fours and two sixes. Mike Clinning took 3-21 off his four overs.