Havant survive onslaught

Ben Walker. Picture: Mick Young (141098-05)
Ben Walker. Picture: Mick Young (141098-05)
Jonny Bairstow, right, thanks skipper Eoin Morgan. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Havant enjoyed a second successive escape as they claimed a winning draw in their high-scoring Southern Electric Premier League premier division battle with Totton & Eling.

After dodging defeat against Bashley last week, Stuart Ransley’s side looked in control when they hit 314 for eight as Ben Walker’s brilliant 95 and Harry Hovey (58) led the way.

But with Totton seemingly content to play for batting points, Havant were nearly caught cold as the home side unleashed an extraordinary late barrage with Australian batsman Cameron Valente (113 not out) almost snatching the game with Totton finishing on 304 for six.

There was even more relief for Havant when they discovered leaders South Wilts had suffered defeat to Hampshire Academy to throw the title race wide open again.

Player-coach Pete Hopson said: ‘It was another escape really because they scored 100 runs in the last seven overs.

‘They went from blocking it throughout the middle part of the innings, where we went through long passages of play where hardly a run was scored, to all of a sudden, deciding they wanted to win the game. It was bizarre.

‘They might be reflecting on it and thinking they should have won the game.

‘It seemed like they came out with the attitude to play for batting points.

‘But if they had gone maybe five or 10 overs earlier, they probably would have gone on to win.

‘Valente blocked 30-odd overs and then nearly won the game for them.

‘He batted brilliantly and then Luke Evans (39 from 15 balls) came in and played every shot you could imagine.

‘A couple of overs went for 20 and you start to wonder.’

But Hopson admitted there had been a huge bonus when news of the other match filtered through.

He said: ‘South Wilts lost so it’s all back up in the air again.

‘It might not have been how we were looking to do it but we are closer to them now.

‘The gap is down to four points and the league is so tight that four points cover fourth place to bottom.

‘There are some big teams in there and we have got 
some very big games coming up.’