PORTSMOUTH made a winning start to their Southern Electric Premier League division two season after beating Paultons by 23 runs on Saturday.
Captain David Henderson elected to bat first, but things started catastrophically for the St Helens side.
Jamie Mitchell went for a duck before Jack Marston (20) and Richard Locke (45) put on a 58-run partnership to reignite the innings as the hosts reached a modest total of 147 all out.
Pat Burns and Vikram Dawson both starred as they took five wickets apiece to demolish Paultons and secure a deserved victory.
Henderson reserved praise for veteran wicketkeeper Martin Collins-Ballard, with the pair scoring 27 runs for the final wicket to secure the match-winning total.
With regular wicketkeeper Alex Hammond due back from university this weekend, the captain knows he has a tough call to make ahead of their next league match against Sparsholt.
‘Martin is 61 years old and was amazing for us,’ he said.
‘It was nice that the elder statesman made the difference for the team.
‘We have Alex back next weekend and he played for us 17 times last season.
‘I have to choose between a guy who’s done really well and a guy who played for us all last year.
‘That will be my toughest decision and one of them will be disapppointed.’
After registering the victory, Henderson reiterated the target for this campaign and believes his side must affirm their title credentials at Sparsholt next time out.
He said: ‘This season we’ve got a real chance of promotion.
‘It was a nice start to the season and hopefully we can build on that win.
‘Sparsholt next week will be a big test for us.’
Elsewhere, Hambledon were left shell-shocked after losing at Tichborne Park.
Opening batsman Jack Lavous (64) helped the Dons to 157 all out, which was matched by the hosts in just 18.1 overs and for the loss of three wickets, thanks to George Ayling’s 103 off just 44 balls.