A closely-contested and absorbing Watford Observer Fourteen14 Shield final was decided in the last over as Kings Langley sealed a four-wicket victory over Northchurch to lift the trophy for the second time in their history.

Mark Brazier (27 not out) struck the match-clinching boundary with four deliveries remaining to see Kings surpass the target of 132 on a glorious evening at West Herts’ Park Avenue ground, having got the final over off to the ideal start with a six through square. But the outcome might have been different had it not been for the exploits of Varman Ratnakumaran.

The match was finely balanced when the Sri Lankan strode out to the middle after Harry Sambrook (10) had been the third Kings wicket to fall in the sixth over with the score on 30. Ratnakumaran scored singles off the first two deliveries he faced, the third was a dot ball and then the batsman cut loose.

John Barry (1-41 from 4 overs) was on the receiving end as Ratnakumaran crashed four consecutive sixes through the on side to move his side from 36-3 to 60-3 in no time at all. And to add insult to injury for the bowler, a wide off the final delivery of the over saw him concede another four runs under competition rules.

The seventh over yielded 29 runs in total and put Kings ahead of their opponents at the corresponding stage of the innings.

It was a position that was to be further strengthened in the ninth over as Lee Johnson (2-34 from 3 overs) was next to be on the receiving end of Ratnakumaran’s six-hitting treatment, another four was to follow after Andrew Burnell (35) had also found the boundary, but then Ratnakumaran’s innings was to come to an end for a whirlwind 41 when he was well caught by Barry to leave his side on 89-4.

The Kings number five was to win the man-of-the-match award for his innings, but his departure led to a spell when Northchurch not only put the brakes on but also threatened to turn the final back in their favour.

After eight runs had been conceded by Steve McGiffin from his first eight deliveries, a fine 11th over saw Lee Johnson bowl Andrew Burnell and leak just four runs from the next seven balls to leave Kings on 103-5.

The equation of 29 needed off 24 balls then became 25 from 16 after McGiffin (1-27 from 3 overs) accounted for Kings skipper Christian James (2) to leave his side with four wickets remaining.

Brazier eased the pressure to a degree with a boundary in 13th over and kept the scoreboard ticking over with George Langston (9 not out). But it was to be the sixth six of Kings’ innings from the first delivery of the last over that was to leave the victors on the brink.

Having lost the toss, Kings were to ask to field but good bowling by James (1-27 from 4 overs) from the outset prevented Northchurch from getting away.

It took until the fifth over for Tom Garraway (22) to hit the first boundary of the match, but aided by eight wides from the first delivery of Andrew Burnell’s (0-33 from 3 overs) third over Northchurch looked to try and accelerate.

Opener Mark Hobley was to score the game’s first six – and his side were to add two more – en route to carrying his bat for 55 not out. But change bowlers Ratnakumaran (2-32 from 4 overs) and Brazier (0-27 from 3 overs) kept it sufficiently tight to restrict the Herts League Division Three A leaders to 131-4.

Kings' reply had got off to a poor start as they lost Scott Rolfe (1) and David Burnell (0) inside the first over.

Sambrook and Andrew Burnell had to consolidate for a period against Northchurch openers Barry and Oli Johnson (1-29 from 4 overs), but no boundaries were to be forthcoming until Ratnakumaran spectacularly changed the complexion of the final in the space of those four seventh over deliveries.