Wiltshire sneak home in scintillating semi

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Wiltshire booked their place in the final of the MCCA Knockout Trophy with a thrilling two-run victory over Staffordshire at Leek.

An opening stand of 158 between Ed Kilbee, who cracked 126, and Jayden Levitt laid the platform for a visiting score of 280 for six.

Ben McGuire’s spectacular 62-ball 100, which contained nine sixes, helped the hosts recover from 72 for five and they headed into the final over needing six to win with one wicket in hand.

However, Mukesh Bhatt then bowled Craig Barker with the penultimate delivery of the match, leaving Staffs agonisingly short on 278 all out.

Kilbee and Levitt shared partnerships of 225 and 96 earlier this summer and once again prospered after Wiltshire had been invited to bat first.

The latter registered five fours and four sixes in his 76, while Kilbee faced 146 balls to underpin a healthy total.

Tahir Afridi claimed three early wickets and Owen Alsop struck twice as Staffs struggled in reply, before McGuire turned the game on its head by dominating a sixth-wicket stand of 159 with skipper Paul Goodwin.

McGuire looked to have ended Wiltshire’s hopes, but his dismissal was followed by a wicket-maiden from Ben Gardner in the 48th over and Goodwin was then ousted for 66 by Alsop to leave the outcome in the balance.

Staffs got to within three of their target, but Barker’s exit marked the end of the challenge and Wiltshire will now face Cumberland at Wormsley on August 29.