Lancaster hold nerve for victory at Preston

Iain Perrieman took three wickets for Lancaster at Preston on Saturday. Picture: Richard Edmondson

Iain Perrieman took three wickets for Lancaster at Preston on Saturday. Picture: Richard Edmondson

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Lancaster nearly plucked defeat from the jaws of victory against struggling Preston on Saturday.

Sub-pro Rehan Rafiq was the star, taking four wickets with the ball before his 47 not out helped Lancaster to a one-wicket win at Lune Road.

Jamie Heywood opted to bowl first after a week of wet weather resulted in a green pitch.

Perrieman found some immediate bounce early on and bullied out Ben Harrison whose edge found the diving Sam Moorby behind the stumps.

Harrison’s partner Mohsin Modhi was more aggressive, opting to go after anything full with gusto.

Liam Moffat, hampered by a finger injury, was victim to Modhi’s lusty blows, as he found it hard going bowling into a strong breeze.

Despite a couple of half chance run outs, Preston were steady at 30 for 1.

Perrieman was still causing problems from his end, however, as Preston pro Soyeb Dukanwala fell to a sharp catch by Matt White at short mid-wicket.

The entrance of spin to the attack slowed the innings momentum further.

With Jannisar Khan still yet to appear, Rafiq’s slow left armers and a returning Iain Burstow choked the scoring.

Lee Sparks continued his fine fielding form to run out the dangerous Sajid Patel before Burstow lured Modhi down the track as he went for 31 trying one heave too many.

Burstow picked up his second bowling a tight line, as the pressure proved too much for Yasin Patel as he holed out to the leaping Sparks at deep mid-wicket, Preston slipping to 60-5.

When Rafiq got among the wickets soon after, trapping Javaid Hussain on the tow leg before for none, it looked like Preston would subside quickly.

Brave rearguards, first from Miya Lunat and then from Yasin Boda, kept Lancaster in the field to take the visitors past the hundred mark.

Rafiq continued to wheel away mopping up much of the Preston lower order before Perrieman came back to remove the plucky Boda for 28 as Preston finished 109 all out.

The long wet outfield, tricky pitch and batting problems of late were factors that plagued the hosts’ mindset.

A confused top order failed once again, as Charlie Swarbrick and Alex Metcalfe did little to calm any nerves, both falling to injudicious shots.

When in-form captain Jamie Heywood gifted his wicket to the nagging seamers of Andrew Starkie, clipping a catch to mid-on, Lancaster were again reliant on their pro for the day to see them through.

Rafiq played a superb innings, befitting of a professional and was supported well by the experienced Burstow, who knew better than to try and hit out against the good lengths of Iqbal and Starkie.

Both batted sensibly and looked to have played Preston out of the game at 65 for 3 before Burstow nicked the impressive Iqbal behind for what would prove to be an important 17.

With Rafiq at the crease, Lancaster were firm favourites, but once again the other batsmen tried their hardest to throw the game away.

Matt White, in his final game for the club, was sent in to finish the game quickly, and his brief cameo 13, including a big six off Starkie onto the banking, brought the total within touching distance.

Rafiq continued to pick up one and twos, but was rapidly running out of partners as White, Kieran Moffat, Perrieman, Moorby and Sparks all perished needlessly in the pursuit of a quick victory.

It was left to Rafiq and number 11 Liam Moffat to see the hosts over the line, as Rafiq drove Starkie through cover to dash Preston’s hopes and move Lancaster back up to fourth in the table.