Winning start for Meadows

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Belper Meadows (22pts) 190-5 [39.5 overs] (J Slater 73*, R Borland 36, M Ayaz 3-62) beat Derby Congs (6pts) 187-9 [46 overs] (B De Vos 73*, A Jari 50, D Challinor 5-57) by 5 wickets

BELPER Meadows welcomed Derby Congs for the start of the much anticipated 2011 season and got off to a fine winning start.

Bright blue skies and an even brighter white picket fence greeted the away side down at Christchurch Meadows.

After the defection of several key players in what has been tipped to be a season of struggle, new captain Michael Cox led out a youthful side to the field; after Ben Devos opted to make full use of a belting deck.

After two seasons off, Dan Challinor took the new ball and immediately had an impact as he dislodged three out of four of the Congs top line-up.

Matt Wheatcroft joined in as he bowled with pace and precision to leave Congs reeling at 33-4 until the impressive Devos was joined by Anuj Jari.

These two then steadied the ship with a fifth wicket stand of 93 when Joe Woznicka-Wells struck to edge Belper back in front at the drinks interval.

Devos continued to anchor the innings as he latched onto anything short or offline from the Belper attac.

Rob Borland bowled with aggression completing his 14 overs with 0 -37.

Challinor returned fresh to bowl at the even fresher pads of Michael Wood; claiming his wicket twice off of no-balls which ended in a sharp run out from Rob Borland.

Challinor then mopped up the lower order in claming 5-57 to leave Congs 187-9 with Devos remaining 73 not out.

After the tea break, Belper’s confidence of overtaking the below par total and proved founded.

Cox and Slater set about chasing down a valuable victory at the start of the season and Belper started off brightly with trademark cover drives off Cox before he edged Ayaz behind.

Slater continued his imperious form looking confident and assured in an excellent display of stroke making from the classy left-hander. Borland also joined in taking Belper past 100 in the 16th over before a mini collapse ensued with Belper losing key wickets at the wrong time.

Horton and Slater dug in and took the score well past 150 before Horton missed the straight one to let Woznicka-Wells in on the action, hitting three consecutive boundaries to finish the game and give Belper a well deserved victory with Slater finishing on 73 not out.

This was a great team effort to achieve the first 22-pointer of the season.