Napa Valley Cricket Club

Back Row (left to right): Amritpal Bhatal, Nathan Stern, Rob Bolch, Richard Mattner, Scott Curwood, Clive Richardson, Phil Bourke. Abhijit Adhye. Front Row (left to right) Gus Cleland, Bijoy Ojha, Andrew Healy, Tim Irwin, Peter Carson. Submitted photo

The Napa Valley Cricket Club avenged an earlier loss to the Sonoma Gullies with a convincing win at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga on Sunday.

Napa Valley picked up its first-ever home win, 108/1 to 104, all out by 13 wickets with 17.3 over to spare (30 over the game).

Napa Valley lost the coin toss but was surprisingly asked to bowl first on the newly laid pitch. Unlike in the previous encounter in August, Napa Valley struck early and didn’t allow any of the Sonoma batsmen to build substantial innings nor partnerships.

A wicket with the fourth ball of the first over sent the Sonoma opener back to the sidelines; given his score of 65 in the previous encounter, this was a major breakthrough for Napa.

Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals as the Napa Valley bowling attack made the best use of the early start and the swing that was available to it before the heat of the day kicked in.

A purple patch for Amritpal Bhatal in the 16th over almost brought a hat-trick of wickets. Instead, he was very content with three wickets in four balls thanks to some superb fielding from Irishman Andrew Healy at backward point. Napa Valley captain Tim Irwin brought himself back on and helped clean up the Sonoma tail with assistance from New Zealander Gus Cleland.

Irwin continued the Napa Valley tradition this season of “5 fors,” joining Cleland and Rob Bolch (two) on the honors board.

After lunch, Napa started the chase with Australian pair Phil Bourke and Richard Mattner opening the batting. The set off at a brisk pace racing to 20 runs after the first two overs, chasing the Sonoma total of 104.

An LBW decision against Bourke brought Bhatal to the crease and he and Mattner set about chasing down the total in style. A flurry of boundaries off a number of Sonoma bowlers ensured that Napa reached the target with 17 overs and plenty of wickets to spare.

“We’re a social club but, boy, does it feel good to win a game, especially at home,” Irwin said. “I was surprised that they offered us the ball after losing the toss and our bowlers did a great job in keeping their score down and the wickets kept on falling. Having seen Amritpal produce his magic spin bowling, I only wish we could schedule more games on a Sunday as he works on Saturdays.

“Our fielding has improved in our last couple of games and that old cricket adage that ‘catches win matches’ certainly came true today with another fine fielding performance, with great work from Andrew (Healy) and Englishman Clive Richardson, who has hands like glue.”

For Napa Valley, Mattner finished with 56 runs off 34 balls (4x4, 4x6), and Bhatal had 24 runs off 32 balls (2x4, 1x6). Bowling-wise, Irwin had five wickets for 21 runs, and Bhatal had four wickets for 23 runs.

Napa Valley’s next game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 against Marin Cricket Club at Piper Park in Larkspur.

It will be the series decider, as the series stands at a win apiece.

The club thanks sponsors Taltarni, MASilva (Cork & Glass), TricorBraun Winepak, Tonnellerie Saint Martin, Grapeleaf Graphics and St. Helena Vet Hospital.

Visit www.napacricket.com or contact Andrew Healy at 227-4273 or napavalleycricket@gmail.com for more information about the Napa Valley Cricket Club.

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