Ton-up Francis sees Gidea Park & Romford past Oakfield Parkonians
PUBLISHED: 14:30 28 August 2016
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Captain's knock decides Essex League Division Two promotion showdown
Gidea Park & Romford captain Jamal Francis hit a century to steer his side to a vital victory against Essex League Division Two promotion rivals Oakfield Parkonians.
The visitors arrived at Gallows Corner lying in second place and with a 12-point cushion over Park, heading into the penultimate match of an enthralling season.
But Shawn Findlay wiped out their top order with a stunning five-wicket haul and Francis then combined with Kasi Hoq to see the hosts to a nine-wicket triumph.
Francis put the visitors into bat after winning the toss, but opposite number Jibran Azam put on 37 in five overs with Faisal Bhatti, who then edged Findlay behind to Steve Brant.
Francis took a catch off the bowling of Findlay to dismiss Azam for 27, before Francis bowled Ramya Upadhyay and dismissed Paresh Kalley and James Foley for ducks to leave Oakfield 70-5 in the 15th over.
But Haris Khan and Eshun Kalley steadied the ship with a dogged 87-run stand spanning the next 25 overs of their innings, before Francis took a return catch off his own bowling to end Kalley’s defiance after scoring 36.
Khan eventually fell to veteran Russ Collard, having hit a six and 10 fours in his 74, and Dave Rai was run out to leave the visitors 176-8.
And Collard (3-27) claimed the final two wickets to fall to wrap up the Oakfield innings on 194.
Park lost Elliot Joyner cheaply in reply, with only nine runs on the board in the fifth over.
But that was all Parkonians had to cheer as Kasi Hoq and Francis combined in a superb matchwinning stand for the second wicket.
Francis reached his hundred off 103 balls, having hit 16 fours, and was unbeaten on a run-a-ball 111 after adding two more boundaries to his list.
Hoq played the supporting role at the other end, finishing unbeaten on 74 after hitting eight boundaries.
And another win at Leigh on the last day of the season next weekend will see Park promoted, no matter what Oakfield Parkonians manage to do in their home match against Harlow Town.