RUGBY continued their unbeaten start to the new Birmingham League Division Three season with a 24-run victory over Stratford, courtesy of a Duckworth & Lewis calculation.
Owen Edwards won the toss again and, despite apparently bowler-friendly conditions, he backed the formula which continues to work for his side and chose to bat first again.
Asaad Qureshi and Raj Chohan enjoyed some wayward bowling from Stratford’s pair of left-arm opening bowlers and the scoreboard was soon moving along at five-an-over.
A couple of bowling changes for the visitors stemmed the flow of runs, but wickets were hard to come by and it wasn’t until the 20th over that the breakthrough came.
Having added 73 for the first wicket, Chohan (33) was the first to fall, before Qureshi (26) followed two overs later.
Owen Edwards (7) followed soon after, attempting an expansive shot too early in his innings as three wickets fell for 17 runs.
Michael Hughes steadied the ship on his return to the first XI after a five-season break and was joined by Matt Ewer who soon upped the tempo.
Ewer was ruthless on any loose deliveries and soon put Rugby back in the ascendancy in a 60-run stand before Hughes (24) was bowled with the score on 150.
Henry Parker (31 from 27 balls) was soon into his stride, striking a series of crisp straight drives, as he and Ewer (58 from 42 balls) continued to score freely, propelling their side towards a good total.
Late cameos from Lee James (18) and George Terry (12 not out) saw Rugby close their innings on 241-9 from 50 overs.
This score looked marginally above par, but Stratford’s reply started positively against some inconsistent bowling.
They raced to 45 from eight over before Ewer got the first breakthrough, trapping Gareth Langman (16) lbw.
Dexter Purser (44) had been the main aggressor and he continued to attack but his luck ran out when he skied a drive to mid-on, where a back-pedaling Edwards held on.
Vishaal Rathod was then introduced and, for the second week running, he struck immediately when he jagged one through the gate to uproot Charlie Blake’s leg stump and reduce Stratford to 67-3.
A brief rain delay came soon after and, when play resumed, Rugby’s bowlers struggled to grip an increasingly wet ball, but Rathod struck again to remove Australian Declan Waddington (17).
Rugby stuck to their task manfully in difficult conditions, but Stratford’s captain and ex-Worcestershire man Chris Whelan began to take control and found an able partner in Josh Hickman.
With the wet weather likely to return, the Duckworth Lewis par score was displayed after each over and soon Stratford were moving significantly ahead of where they needed to be.
Rugby needed a breakthrough and it came when captain Edwards brought himself onto bowl and nipped one back through Hickman’s defence for 24, ending a 46-run partnership.
This wicket levelled things up on D/L, but Rugby moved well ahead when Edwards struck again in his second over, this time accounting for Whelan (34) via a brilliant diving catch by Parker.
When the rain came down more heavily soon after and play was ended for the day, Stratford were on 146-6 from 33 overs, giving Rugby D/L victory by 24 runs.
The victory puts Rugby joint top of the table with three other sides and they travel to Old Elizabethans on Saturday.