STURMINSTER & HINTON 122 (5pts) lost to ABBOTSBURY (20pts) 125-5 by 5 wickets

ABBOTSBURY moved joint top of County Division Four with a hard-fought victory over Sturminster & Hinton.

Opting to bat first on a very grassy strip after winning the toss, Sturminster started brightly with opener Andy Beal taking full advantage of the downward slope on the offside against some uncharacteristically ragged bowling from Grafton Straker.

In contrast, Chas Duerdoth was miserly at the other end, only conceding seven runs in his eight overs, and grabbed a quick couple of wickets to remove Sam Scott (2) and A J Rose for a duck, the latter dismissal aided by an excellent slip catch by Krish Subramanian.

Sturminster refused to retreat into their shell and continued to bat aggressively, in particular Kris Holmon who top scored with a quickfire 33.

However, the introduction of crafty spinner Subramanian (5-31) into the attack produced immediate reward as he induced Beal (19) into lofting an easy catch to mid-on and Holman then fell in similar fashion.

Some injudicious shot selection by the Sturminster middle order, good catching by Robin Potter, who clung on to three chances, and a great reflex catch held at slip by Aaron Oliver helped Subramanian to his five-wicket haul.

A last-wicket stand of 33 dominated by Harry Lewis (31) held up Abbotsbury for a while but Straker (1-43), returning for his second spell, grabbed the final wicket to bowl out the home side for 122.

In reply, the Abbotsbury openers posted an opening stand of 33 before Simon Pengelly (19) was caught and bowled by Beal.

The Sturminster attack was making run scoring difficult with some disciplined line and length, and Beal returned impressive match figures of 4-15 to leave the Swans struggling on 65-5 by the 21st over.

However, the home side were unable to remove an obdurate Nick Kneebone (42no) and in partnership with left-hander Robin Potter, who employed his signature leg-side glance to full effect in collecting seven boundaries in his 32 not out, the pair saw the Swans through to the victory target to gain maximum points.

This Saturday, the Swans travel to face fellow title contenders Shillingstone Seconds.