Brilliant Bhatia in top form for victorious Morecambe

Viraj Bhatia batting for Morecambe. Picture: Neil Cross.
Viraj Bhatia batting for Morecambe. Picture: Neil Cross.

Morecambe’s hopes of survival were given a significant boost at Stanley Park on Saturday after their 13-run victory over Blackpool.

Batting first, the visitors went on to post a respectable target, they were eventually bowled out for 132 off 41 overs, mainly thanks to opener Viraj Bhatia’s impressive half century.

Opener Lewis Smith (2) fell LBW to Tom Jefferson (4-23), with the score on 12-1, but Bhatia (57) and returning sub professional Kelly Smuts (20) combined well to settle things down.

However, the South African was next to go when he was caught by Jamie Thomson off the bowling of Joshua Boyne (2-51), while skipper Ryan Pearson managed just five runs before becoming Thomson’s first victim of the day, wicketkeeper Ben Howarth taking the catch.

Tommy Clough came in at number five, but he didn’t last long, falling for just one run as Thomson and Matthew Siddall combined, taking the score to 70-4, which brought Eddy Read to the crease.

However, Read (7) was caught by Chris Baines off Grant Thomson (1-12) and top scorer on the day, Bhatia, was next to go, caught and bowled by Boyne.

Jake Smith came in but went for a duck, Jefferson striking again, and with the score on 121 Adam Derham (10) was clean bowled as Morecambe lost their eighth wicket.

Jamie Cassidy managed five runs before being bowled by Jefferson, and when Muhammed Patel (4) was run out the visiting team’s innings was over, finishing on 132.

Blackpool’s reply got off to a terrible start as Morecambe’s bowling attacked ripped into them.

Smuts (2-46) took the wicket of Matthew Houston (0), Damian Gudgeon taking the catch, and the pro struck again soon after, clean bowling Jake Muncaster(0) as the hosts were left reeling on 1-2.

Tom Jefferson was next to go, bowled by Read (2-15), as none of Blackpool’s first three batsmen managed a single run between them.

Grant Thomson (21) came in and steadied things somewhat, but he too fell to Read, Cassidy taking the catch, and Boyne (24) was next to go, Clough (5-27) and Bhatia combining to leave the hosts on 73-5.

Andy Furniss (23) became Derham’s only wicket of the day, Clough taking the catch, and Chris Baines (2) was next to go, Clough cleaning him up.

Blackpool captain Paul Danson managed just two before being caught by Smith off Clough, and the pair combined against to take the wicket of Jamie Thomson (1).

Howarth (39) was the last man to go, Clough striking to complete his five-wicket haul as Morecambe picked up 15 vital points.