Bradford League: Bilal’s heroics with bat and ball boost Woodlands’ chances of Premier title
Woodlands returned to the top of the Gordon Rigg Bradford League when they enjoyed a double success over the weekend.
Despite having to dodge the rain that fell on both days they were able to record an eight-wicket success against Farsley on Sunday and a 10-wicket win over Pudsey St Lawrence on Saturday to go nine points clear of Townville with two games remaining.
There could be more twists to come in the title race, however, with both of the top two still to play third-placed New Farnley who can also still win the Premier Division title.
Muhammad Bilal was the star performer for Woodlands at Farsley when he took 4-24 as the hosts were bowled out for 111 then played a key part with the bat, hitting 34 from 18 balls after being promoted to open with the threat of rain around.
Set a Duckworth Lewis Stern target of 89, Woodlands cruised home in just 12 overs with Brad Schmulian also hitting 22no.
Bilal was carrying on his form from a day earlier when he claimed 6-19 as Pudsey St Lawrence were shot out for 64.
He was brilliant with the bat again, as well, smashing seven sixes and two fours in an unbeaten 54 made from just 14 balls as the defending champions raced to their target in only 3.4 overs.
Defeat for Batley against New Farnley left them stranded in the bottom two.
Rain did not spare them as they were all out for only 82 with Tahseen Shah Suleman (19) top scoring and Farnley winning by six wickets.
With only two matches left Batley now find themselves 22 points behind third from bottom Cleckheaton, who had their game against Methley abandoned after they had reached 172-7 in 27.1 over with Toby Booth hitting 76.
The other relegation candidates, Morley, were edged out by six runs by Hanging Heaton on Sunday.
Heaton’s game against Farsley had been washed out on Saturday with Farsley on 245-5 from 43 overs, but they were able to complete Sunday’s match after posting a 212 score with Nick Connolly hitting 56, Joe Fraser 50 and David Stiff 37.
Morley came close to chasing down the runs only to fall six short, all out on 206. Josh Wheatley (4-63) and fellow spinner Callum Bethel (3-67) did most of the damage.
Birstall had their Division One game against Keighley abandoned without a ball being bowled, while East Bierley did manage to reach 197-4 from 30.2 overs against Gomersal before the rain swept in. Matthew West was particularly disappointed when the game ended early as he stood on 88no, having hit seven fours and three sixes. Andrew Duckworth also hit 75, including 11 fours and two sixes.
Spen Victoria were doubly unlucky as Division Two games against Scholes and Buttershaw St Paul’s were both abandoned.
Hopton Mills were on 29-1 in reply to 196 all out as their match against Sandal was ended early.
Michael Carroll took 4-54, Umar Abbas 3-62 and Ashley Mackereth 2-39, but their efforts proved in vain.
Liversedge were able to bat for 39 overs in their Division Three game against Rodley, with James Lunn hitting 10 fours in an unbeaten knock of 93 and support coming from Will Atkin (40) and Asad Mahmood (33) as they reached 227-5.
Rodley were unable to bat, but at least Liversedge picked up an extra three bonus points for their efforts.
Crossbank Methodists’ hopes of closing the gap on the top three in Division Three were dashed when their match at Brighouse was abandoned with the hosts on 130-3 after 20 overs.