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Title chase a three horse race

With 120 points up for grabs when the 50 overs win or lose format returns next week, the chase for the Birmingham Premier Division title has developed into a three-horse race.

West Bromwich Dartmouth’s failure to defeat struggling Walsall leaves them vulnerable to a strong challenge from Berkswell and Barnt Green, who earned 24 point wins against Brockhampton and Dorridge, respectively, while at the foot of the table, Himley and Walsall remain in the bottom two, following losing draws against Shrewsbury and Dartmouth, who totalled 270 for six at Sandwell Park.

Aqsad Ali top scored with 69 not out, while Kadeer Ali (64) and Zeeshan Asif (58) both registered half-centuries. Paul Byrne took 3-79 for Walsall, who lost seven overs during their innings due to a break for rain.

At 73 for five, defeat looked imminent but a stubborn sixth wicket stand of 71 between Jack Biddulph (47) and Byrne (37) saved the day as Walsall hung on at 171 for eight. Asif was the pick of the Dartmouth bowlers with 3-37.

After slipping to 93 for four against Brockhampton, second in the table Berkswell recovered to finish on 273 for seven thanks to former Warwickshire duo Darren Maddy (106) and Dominic Ostler (42). Maddy’s century came from 99 balls and he took two wickets as Brockhampton crumbled to 116 all out. David Brignull (3-39) and Nick James (3-28) did most of the damage and Tanvir Ahmed, also, took two wickets to add to his 30 in the Berkswell innings.

Chris Powell top scored with 39 for Brockhampton who slip to fifth place in the table. Although Barnt Green remain outsiders for the title, they stay in contention thanks to a five wicket win over Dorridge who were dismissed for 149 after electing to bat first.

Oli Haley scored 60 for Dorridge but their attack had no answer to an onslaught from Ed Pollock who crashed an unbeaten 72 as Barnt Green raced to victory in the 24th over of their response, Nathan Myers finishing with 3-57 for Dorridge.

2013 Champions Shrewsbury went run-crazy against bottom of the table Himley at London Road, piling up 352 for six in 55 overs, led by centuries from skipper Rob Foster (113) and his predecessor Ed Foster (112).

Both scored at a run a ball and shared a second wicket stand of 156 after Ed Foster and Steven Leach (32) opened with a partnership of 89. Tom Cox added 38 to take Shrewsbury out of reach while the best of the Himley bowlers was Jamie Harris with 4-60. In reply, Himley meandered to 171 for seven with Greg Wright scoring 42 but Himley, as well as Walsall, will need to improve on their early season 50 over form if they are to escape relegation.

Elsewhere, Knowle & Dorridge’s Australian star Michael Hill signed off with a massive 152 against Walmley before he returns home this week. He crashed 12 fours and eight sixes from 129 balls as K & D raced to 337 for seven which included 81 from Alex Phillips, who hit 11 fours.

Phillips and Hill put on 180 for the second wicket to take their side out of sight. Shozair Ali took 4-89 for Walmley but the Eldon Drive side were blown away for 77 in reply with Jack Grundy taking 5-32. Kenilworth Wardns moved three places up the table following an easy eight wicket success over Kidderminster Victoria who have still not thrown off the threat of relegation.

Worcestershire’s Matt Pardoe hit 85 but Kidderminster were bowled out for 177 by Sitanshu Kotak (4-45) and Anthony Wilkinson (4-55) before an unbeaten 68 from Scott Stenning and 42 from Keith Bell eased Wardens away from immediate danger.