LUKE Ryan steered Oxfordshire to a nerve-jangling one-wicket victory over Bedfordshire at Bicester & North Oxford yesterday.
Oxon’s captain hit the winning runs with two balls to spare as his side stumbled over the finish line in this Group 1 clash.
Having also won their opener against Devon by the same margin, Ryan is certainly proving a lucky skipper.
The hosts had were cruising on 161-1 at the drinks interval in reply to Bedfordshire’s 262-6, but then made extremely hard work of what should have been a routine task.
Bedfordshire’s spinners found far more control and potency than their seamers as the visitors came right back into the match.
However, Oxon had only themselves to blame, as too many poor shots made for a pulsating finish.
Bedfordshire opted to bat first, but suffered an early blow when Luke Thomas was caught behind in Daniel Rowe’s first over.
Thomas’s opening partner, captain Steve Stubbings, had other ideas and went on to top-score with 94 off 119 balls, featuring nine fours and a six.
Stubbings, who put on 115 for the second wicket with Robert Keogh (60), was finally out hit wicket, after playing back to a Ryan delivery.
Andy Reynoldson added an unbeaten 50 as Oxon struggled.
Ryan was the only home bowler to take two wickets, while Richard West had the best economy rate.
Oxon opener Damian Shirazi fell cheaply in the hosts’ reply, but Richard Kaufman and Lloyd Sabin set about the chase with gusto.
They raced to 138-1 off 20 overs in style and were 161-1 at drinks.
The interval proved something of a turning point, with Kaufman falling for 68 in the first over after the resumption – albeit to a terrific diving catch from Stubbings.
Sabin followed ten minutes later for a superb 80 – his highest one-day score for Oxfordshire.
There was a moment of controversy when Bedfordshire were penalised with a no ball for having too many leg-side fielders.
And when Nathan Hawkes and Jamie Perkin fell in quick succession, there was more than a touch of tension creeping in.
It was 185-6 when Cater added to the collapse, but Oxon rallied with David Smith and West.
However, they shot themselves in the foot again when Smith skied a drive and West ran himself out.
Chad Keegan smashed 27 off just 13 balls, but was out to a soft shot having hit Andy Reynoldson for successive sixes.
This left Rowe and Ryan to save the day.
Oxon ended up needing three from the final over – where two singles and a Ryan four did the job.