8:30am Monday 12th May 2014
By Mike Knox
OXFORDSHIRE virtually secured their place in the quarter-finals with a comfortable 39-run win over Bucks in the Unicorns Trophy at Challow & Childrey yesterday.
It was Oxon’s third successive win in Group 4, and with two counties to go through, victory in their final match away to Herefordshire next week will secure a home tie in the last eight.
But Oxon did not have things all their own way after choosing to bat first on a damp pitch.
Despite an aggressive 38 from Lloyd Sabin, Oxon slumped to 58-4.
They were rescued by a fifth-wicket stand of 84 by Jonny Cater and Richard West, who helped turn the tide.
Cater curbed his natural aggression to make 68 off 97 balls.
But when he and West fell in quick succession, the game was in the balance at 143-6.
However, for the second week in succession, the Oxon tail added more than 100 off the last ten overs as conditions eased.
Chad Keegan led the way with an unbeaten 53 from 25 balls with four sixes and three fours.
Luke Ryan chipped in with 36 off 17 balls and with Ashley Blanchard also hitting out, Oxon reached 256-7, with 118 having come from the last ten overs.
This always looked a match-winning total as some steady opening spells from Keegan, Liam Manley and Blanchard put Bucks behind the clock in an innings interrupted by a short shower.
Bucks were in with a chance at 92-1, but Oxon skipper Ryan claimed the vital wicket of Rob White with his first ball.
When a direct hit from Karl Penhale then ran out an ambling Saif Zaib, Bucks were in trouble.
Ryan also dismissed Hamzah Taj, Bucks top scorer, for 52 and only a late flourish enabled the visitors to go over the 200 mark.
It was an efficient display from a confident Oxfordshire side.
© Copyright 2001-2014 Newsquest Media Group