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Falkland stagger home with a draw

Tough start on return to league's top division while Thatcham get off to a winning start

FALKLAND made a tentative start to life back in the top flight of the Homes Counties Premier League when they salvaged a draw at Harpenden on Saturday.

Harpenden, who narrowly escaped the drop last term, could not finish off the visitors after setting them a massive target of 307 to win.

The Hertfordshire side gave Falkland a warm welcome as openers Ricky Damiano and Chris Bennett-Baggs put on 177.

Damiano continued to flay the Falkland attack, cracking 18 fours and six sixes as he put on another 82 runs with Nick Lamb before Neil Gunter had him snapped up by Steve Pope for 157. Bennett-Baggs had gone for 55, trapped LBW by Mubhair Khan, and although Mark Foster pounced to run out Ben Frazer, Lamb (42 not out) and Chris Warn (17 not out) steered Harpenden to a daunting 306-3 in 47 overs.

Falkland's prospects were soon reeling with Tom Heath and Bruce Martin back inside with only one run on the board before Jim Ettridge (18) and Pope (28) stopped the rot.

But it was Khalid Zafar and Foster who dropped the anchor on the survival mission with knocks of 32 and 46 respectively, Nigel Trumper staying put for a dozen before falling just before stumps, when Falkland had reached 145-7 after 50 overs.

They collected five points to the home side's 15 and confirmation that it will be a challenging campaign ahead.

ALI NAQVI jetted back from Pakistan to help Thatcham to a maximum points haul on the opening day of the Morrant Thames Valley League Division One season.

The former international shook off any jet lag by claiming an unbeaten 122 as Thatcham posted 220-7 in 52 overs against visitors Beaconsfield at Brownsfield.

And Naqvi then took charge with the ball to claim 4-63 as Beaconsfield were dismissed for 154 to give Thatcham a 25-point start.

Falkland II also made a winning start in Division Two B, beating Kidmore End by 54 runs at Enborne Lodge.

James Frost took 6-64 as Falkland were dismissed for 206, but Usman Asif responded with 5-35 as the visitors were held to 152 in reply.

Newbury made a losing start in Division Three A, going down by four wickets to Yateley in Division Three A.

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