Khawaja eases Derbyshire to crown
Usman Khawaja’s flamboyant 72 not out sped Derbyshire to the LV= County Championship Division Two title with a six-wicket defeat of Hampshire at the County Ground.
The hosts eased to a target of 196 inside 42 overs to pip Yorkshire to top spot by virtue of having won a game more. Both were promoted yesterday evening when Kent lost to Glamorgan, Derbyshire achieving the feat for the first time in any competition.
Having led the league for most of the year, Wayne Madsen’s side had seen a 26-point lead when they last won in the championship five games ago whittled down to one prior to this last round of matches.
Yorkshire briefly overtook them by gaining an extra batting point, but Derbyshire yesterday crucially reached 250 in their first innings to ensure victory would deliver the title.
They completed the job at 3:01pm in front of a vocal crowd, with Hampshire looking as if their minds had wandered to tomorrow’s Clydesdale Bank 40 final with Warwickshire at Lord’s.
Derbyshire’s chase got going with David Balcombe conceding two fours, Paul Borrington cutting and Wayne Madsen clipping through midwicket. Borrington later mimicked Madsen’s shot.
Liam Dawson replaced Balcombe and was driven by Madsen through mid-off for four and eased off the back foot by Borrington for another boundary.
However, both openers fell in the two overs before lunch with the hosts on 45. Jimmy Adams held a fine low first-slip catch off David Griffiths to remove Borrington for 21 and Madsen was bowled by Dawson via his back leg for 24.
Wes Durston turned Dawson to leg to bring up the fifty before Khawaja, who made 71 in the first innings, clipped and pulled Sean Ervine for leg-side fours and straight-drove Dawson four another boundary.
Durston emulated Khawaja’s pull off Ervine, who was then twice consecutively driven for four by Khawaja. With the floodlights on, the Australian aerially pulled and cut Griffiths for four - the second shot taking Derbyshire into three figures.
With his appetite whetted, Khawaja lifted Dawson for a straight six and Durston joined the fun by pulling Griffiths for four. However, he paid for playing across the line later in the over when he was plumb lbw for 23.
Khawaja slog-swept Dawson and twice cover-drove Griffiths for four, the second of the three bringing up his fifty from 51 balls.
Following a brief calm period, Dan Redfern swept Dawson to the rope but then was held at leg-slip by Adams diving to his left.
Unperturbed, Khawaja pulled Wood for four and Whiteley got going with a six via an identical shot. Yet, later in the over, he was dropped at slip by Ervine, who shelled a similar chance yesterday.
Whiteley made the most of the let-off by easing Michael Carberry’s occasional spin for two straight sixes. In Carbery’s next over, Khawaja clubbed a full-toss down the ground for four.
Whiteley’s fourth maximum came off Dawson over long-on and another over square-leg completed victory and took him to 38 not out from 30 balls, 57 fewer than Khawaja faced in his innings which featured 13 boundaries.
The day had begun quietly, with Hampshire 142 for six for a lead of 139, but Bilal Shafayat, 52 overnight, upped the ante with four fours in a Tim Groenewald over, cutting, clipping to fine-leg, pulling and going aerially down the ground.
David Wainwright immediately replaced Groenewald and was soon joined by fellow spinner Durston, who snared Wood thanks to a stunning catch from Borrington diving to his right at mid-off.
In Durston’s next over, Borrington could not hold a steepling chance to catch Balcombe in the same position, but, two balls later, Shafayat was run out for 81 when he set off for a suicidal single to midwicket and changed his mind as Whiteley relayed to the wicketkeeper.
Part-timer Durston gained sharp turn to beat Balcombe’s bat for four leg-byes and Wainwright trapped the right-hander plumb lbw in the next over.
Griffiths swiped Durston to the midwicket rope but, next ball, was well held low at cover by Whiteley to end the innings.