Aga hits crucial knock as Hampstead beat basement boys Eastcote and escape relegation zone

Ragheb Aga (right) hit an unbeaten 65 for Hampstead. Pic: Max Flego

Ragheb Aga (right) hit an unbeaten 65 for Hampstead. Pic: Max Flego - Credit: Max Flego

Ragheb Aga struck a crucial unbeaten 65 as Hampstead narrowly overcame basement boys Eastcote and moved out of the Premier Division relegation zone.

The reigning champions looked set to bowl their struggling hosts out for a below-par total, after having them 156-9 – but Joshua Sundberg (73 not out) and Avi Anand (15no) added 40 before Chris Beaumont-Dark (5-42) ended Eastcote’s innings after 56.2 overs.

George Adair (28) and Henry Collier (21) took Hampstead to 60-1 in reply, yet they slumped to 98-5 and, when Liam Hughes (12) was dismissed, the Lymington Road side were 125-6 – 72 runs short of their target.

But Aga and Ollie Steele (26) shared a pivotal 50-run partnership. And, although the departures of Steele, Zain Rizvi (1) and Beaumont-Dark (4) set up a tense climax – with the last pair needing five runs – Aga and Will Roberts (4no), who hit a boundary, took their side over the line.

Hampstead’s second successive victory took them two places up the table and they now lie eight points clear of the drop zone.

Chairman Nick Brown said: “This was a very important win for us. It’s no secret Eastcote have been struggling this season so picking up 10 points was key for us.

“It was a very nervy finish and we needed a few bits of luck to get the total, but I think we have been due some luck, so maybe this was a bit of evening out.

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“We didn’t feel we bowled well early on. There were too many four balls and, although we did turn things around, once again we weren’t able to close out the innings. Whilst we didn’t think 196 was an above-par score, it could have been less.

“Our scorecard tells the story. The ball kept lower and lower and we found it difficult to rotate the strike. We were indebted to the partnership between Ollie and Ragheb to bring the game back to us, and Ragz then closed the game out. It was a superb innings and a match-defining contribution.”