KARL Penhale’s five-wicket haul fired Oxfordshire to a 59-run victory over reigning champions Berkshire in their Group 4 opener at Bicester & North Oxford CC.
The Aston Rowant seamer’s spell of 5-22 from 6.3 overs proved the difference as Oxon got their campaign off to a flier.
Having been inserted in damp and cold conditions, the hosts battled back from 90-6 to reach 224 all out in the final over.
This proved an increasingly strong target as Berkshire struggled against the seam trio of Penhale, Ashley Blanchard and debutant Liam Manley, who collected all ten wickets between them.
Oxfordshire lost Lloyd Sabin for five and were up against it the early stages.
Shabaz Alam, their other debutant, made a patient 20 from 53 balls, while Jamie Perkin fell for the same score.
By the time Richard West was sixth man out for seven, Oxon had batted 32.2 overs for their 90 runs.
Captain Luke Ryan and Chad Keegan began the recovery with a partnership of 79 off 66 deliveries.
Keegan and Blanchard raised the tempo further with 52 off 33 balls, the former making 50 off 58 and the latter 36 off 21.
Former Oxon junior Tom Nugent (4-43) was Berkshire’s leading bowler.
The visitors would have been hopeful of chasing down 225, but in the second over Manley took a low one-handed caught and bowled chance to dismiss David Barnes two balls into his county career.
Harry Stephens, captain Richard Morris and James Morris offered some resistance, while Matt Carter had a late flurry, but Oxon were well on top by the end.
The only downside was spinner West having to limp off after four overs of bowling with a foot injury sustained while batting.
Oxon will be full of confidence for Sunday’s clash with Staffordshire at Stone.