Suhaib Ahmad announced himself at Bishop’s Waltham with a five-wicket haul in their 33-run win over fellow title hopefuls Petersfield in Hampshire League division two.
The 19-year-old Hong Kong talent helped to swing the balance the home side’s way with an excellent spell of death bowling at Albany Road.
With both teams defending unbeaten records, it was the efforts of debutant Ahmad and Neerav Trivedi which proved the difference.
‘This is a superb win against very good opponents who made us work hard for everything,’ said Bishop’s Waltham captain Dan Wheeler.
‘Neerav made the breakthrough just when we needed it by dismissing their two danger men.
‘After that Suhaib did the damage to their middle order and turned the game our way.
‘He put the ball in the right areas with plenty of variation to make it difficult for their batsmen.
‘It is great to remain unbeaten and top of the pile, particularly after being pushed all the way.’
Phil Baldock gave Bishop’s Waltham the perfect start – blitzing 103 off just 52 balls to leave his captain hoping for a total of more than 300.
But when Baldock was brilliantly caught in the deep by Dominic Carson, the home side’s middle-order found themselves bogged down.
Sam Medhurst (35) and Ian Budd (28 not out) then provided a late cameo – pushing the total to 256 for nine.
‘After the start we had – 125 for one off the first 14 overs – I was disappointed to only get what we did,’ said Wheeler.
‘Luckily Ian (Budd) and Sam Medhurst picked up the momentum again at the end of our innings.’
In reply, Petersfield made a breezy start – despite losing Damien Carson off the bowling of Neerav – as Gabriel Broadhurst claimed a half-century.
It looked even better for the visitors when Dominic Carson (72) and Ash Spencer (40) came to the wicket and put on a century stand for the third wicket.
‘We looked in trouble because they were batting beautifully,’ said Wheeler.
‘They were intelligently pushing ones and twos with the odd boundary thrown in.
‘At 185 for two, Petersfield looked on course to win and we needed something special.
‘Neerav did just that in the 36th over – dismissing both of them in the space of three balls.’
Ahmad (five for 45) then returned for a devastating second spell to destroy Petersfield’s hopes.
‘That makes it five straight wins and that is a testament to the work ethic in the team,’ said Wheeler.
‘Once again we managed to turn a difficult situation into our favour.
‘We have learned we are not going to blow teams away every week in this league and we have to keep working hard.’