RUGBY enjoyed a special day in the club’s history on Saturday by marking their inaugural Birmingham League Division Three match with a comprehensive 73-run victory.
Things didn’t start ideally for Rugby with the bat after winning the toss when Asaad Qureshi (1) was narrowly run out early on but Raj Chohan was joined by Jeevan Barhey and the pair laid a crucial foundation.
Handsworth’s bowlers were accurate and the inconsistent bounce meant it was hard to score fluently.
Chohan (27) was eventually the second wicket to fall with the score on 76 in the 27th over but Edwards came to the crease and immediately upped the tempo for his side.
Edwards (44) struck four sixes in his 35-ball cameo, adding 65 with youngster Barhey before being caught in the deep.
Meanwhile Barhey (50) underlined his precocious talent and reached a maiden first XI half century.
However, when the pair fell in consecutive overs, Rugby’s new batsmen struggled to keep up the momentum.
It wasn’t a wicket that allowed Rugby’s big-hitting middle order could come out swinging, as spinner Nasir Khan (4-35) made life particularly hard work.
Busy cricket was the order of the day as Matt Ewer (19), Lee James (18) and Vishaal Rathod (13no) all chipped in with handy runs before Rugby’s innings closed on 212-8.
Rugby had grafted hard for their total and it felt like this score was above par but Handsworth signalled their intent with two boundaries in the first over of the reply.
Lee Golding bowled the second over and took just two balls to open his wicket account as Gawayne Evans crunched a half volley straight to the grateful hands of Edwards at mid-off.
However, pinch-hitter Onais Bascome continued to throw caution to the wind and attack the bowling, enjoying his share of good fortune but striking some powerful boundaries in the process.
The score had raced to 52-1 but Rathod’s introduction turned the game dramatically in Rugby’s favour.
He produced a trademark in-swinger to remove Bascome’s (48) leg stump with his second delivery before Henry Wilkins grabbed the third wicket in the following over.
Rathod showed no signs of early-season rustiness, generating good pace and bowling with late swing and control that caused Handsworth’s middle order a lot of trouble.
His second wicket came via a remarkable one-handed catch from Edwards before another swinging yorker secured his third.
Rathod soon added his fourth before Ewer returned for a second spell and claimed the seventh and eighth wickets respectively in quick succession.
Handsworth had collapsed to 72-8 and the game looked over but a spirited ninth-wicket partnership between Khan and Bilal Zameer kept Rugby at bay.
Rugby’s bowlers were looking less threatening but, having added a 50-run stand, Khan (52) hit a Chohan delivery straight to Henry Parker at deep mid-wicket.
Rathod was then reintroduced to the attack and took just one delivery to claim his fifth and the final wicket to fall.
Handsworth were 139 all out in the 38th over.
Rugby take on Stratford on Saturday.