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Superb partnership fires Watford Town A to victory over West Herts in Watford Observer Fourteen14 semi-final
Watford Town are within three days of creating Watford Observer Fourteen14 history after their A side secured a place in Thursday’s Shield final following an impressive nine-wicket success over neighbours West Herts at Met Police Bushey this evening.
The competition’s most successful club may be chasing a tenth victory in the limited overs event but the showdown against Leverstock Green at Chipperfield Clarendon will be their first final appearance since 2003 as they seek to lift a trophy they last won in 1991.
Before then though, Town’s B side face Watford Grammar School for Boys in the Plate final, also at Met Police Bushey, tomorrow night. Never before has the same club won both trophies in the same year since the Plate was introduced in 2003.
Town’s victory was secured thanks to a tremendous unbeaten 133-run partnership between Amit Bhudia and Tauseef Kazmi, who finished undefeated on 43 and 81 not out respectively.
The pair crashed eight sixes to ensure their side always remained ahead of the chase as they successfully reached West Herts’ more than competitive total of 142 for four with five deliveries remaining.
Regrettably, there was an element of controversy about the win as the Stags bowled two nine-ball overs, with the extra two deliveries yielding seven runs. But it is debateable whether this affected the outcome as Watford always looked in control and their opponents were below par in the field.
But those two balls should not take the gloss off a fine batting performance, made all the impressive by the fact Bhudia had to bat with a runner after injuring his groin while fielding.
Having won the toss, the Stags recovered from the early loss of openers Dan Grahame (3) and Alastair Lewis (8) through skipper Craig Sanders and Matt Smith.
The experienced duo put on 79 for the next wicket in the best part of eight overs, with the captain hitting a couple of sixes en route to making 47 before he was bowled by Cookie Latif (two for 29 off thee overs).
Smith crucially remained unbeaten until the end to also finish on 47 as 26 runs were added off the final 16 deliveries to take the Park Avenue side up to a total they would have fancied their chances of defending.
Those prospects were seemingly enhanced when the dangerous Mo Manzoor (5) fell at the end of the first over of the reply to Raoul Harding (one for 19 off two).
But Bhudia gave an indication of what was to come by scoring the first of his three maximums off the penultimate ball of the second over, while four more were struck in overs five and six.
This helped put Town ten runs ahead of their opponents at the halfway point of the innings and by the end of the tenth the gap had grown to 14 in comparison after Bhudia had cracked one of those ninth balls for a six to bring up the century partnership.
The introduction of Ian Gurney (nought for 12 off two) did slow the scoring rate but the victory foundations had already been firmly laid and Kazmi effectively wrapped up the win off the first ball of the final over by launching his fifth six of the match.