Bridges captain Ollie Blandford won the toss and elected to bowl first on a green looking wicket that promised assistance to the visitors’ seam attack and so it proved as Victor Davies and Matt Blandford made early inroads into the Ifield top order leaving the home side’s innings in tatters at 29 for 5.
Tom Wragg alone was standing firm and in Dinesh Salunkhe he found somebody able to stay with him and they put on what was to become comfortably the highest partnership of the match of 36 before Salunkhe was somewhat unluckily bowled by Mike Rose for 18 when the ball trickled back onto his stumps.
At 65 for 6 Ifield were still in a heap of trouble but had ideas of at least reaching three figures but these were blown away by the returning Davies and once he had bowled Wragg for a stubborn 25 off 65 balls the tail folded and the innings finished on just 78 runs off 38 overs.
Davies returned excellent figures of 6 for 34 off 13 overs.
Ifield were determined to make it as difficult as possible for Bridges and skipper Jack Groves immediately turned to the spin of Salunkhe and the pace of Pratik Patel to try and get an early breakthrough and with just the 4th ball of the innings Ian Church spooned a catch to Dan Smith off Salunkhe to give Ifield the perfect start.
Patel’s first over was a maiden but in a crucial 2nd over he took the wicket of Connor Golding who drilled a drive straight to Mike Norris at cover and then Danny Alderman LBW the very next ball to leave Bridges at 13 for 3 and suddenly there was a flicker of belief amongst the Ifield players and supporters that maybe the improbable was just possible.
James Russell and Victor Davies knew that any half decent partnership they could put together would be crucial and potentially match winning but the bowling was extremely tight and accurate and although Davies was looking for any sniff of a chance to hit out the opportunities were few and far between.
With the score on 30 Daniel Groves replaced Patel at the club house end and with his very first ball he bowled Davies for 9 and then just 6 runs later Ollie Blandford tried to cut a straight one from Salunkhe and was bowled for 0.
36 for 5 became 38 for 6 when the patient Russell was dismissed for 12 after gloving a catch to Paul Clifford at slip after Jigar Parekh found a bit of extra bounce and suddenly it was Bridges clinging on desperately hoping for a significant wag from the tail but Ifield were in no mood to take their foot off the pedal.
Cowan was stumped by Groves off Salunkhe for 4, Rose was LBW to Parekh for 5 and then Bellers was caught by Dan Smith off Salunkhe for 3 and a remarkable victory was sealed when Matt Blandford was out LBW for 1 offering no shot to a delivery from Salunkhe and Bridges were all out for 55 and 23 runs short. Salunkhe finished with figures of 5 for 28 but all bowlers made a significant contribution.
On the day the ball dominated the bat on a pitch that was never easy to get in on but it was Ifield’s character and attitude of never giving up that got them home and in the end they thoroughly deserved their victory.
Next week Ifield travel to Bognor in another key fixture in the run in to the end of the season.
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