Sheffield University 1st XI opened their season with a narrow four wicket defeat to Manchester 2nd XI. With ten BUCS games cancelled across all three teams so far, the 1st XI finally got a game in at Cheadle Hulme on Wednesday. Ali Haynes scored an excellent 70 as Sheffield posted 166 but it was not enough, as Sandeep Barman scored 92 not out to win the game for Manchester.
Sheffield captain Chris Murrall lost a crucial toss and the Manchester skipper opted to field on a wet track. Will Aitkenhead went early and Haynes and Murrall rebuilt well to take the score past 50 before Murrall skied one to depart for 23.
Wickets then fell at regular intervals as Sheffield tried to base their innings around Haynes who was beginning to find some form on a difficult pitch.
When Haynes finally fell for 70 it was into the final ten overs and Sheffield were able to up the run rate. Some lusty blows from Oli Perry and Jordan Calcutt helped boost the score and Sheffield would have been happy to head into the break with 166 on the board.
They were even happier when Manchester were quickly reduced to 22/3 thanks to early wickets from Sheffield stalwart Mark Williams (2/32) and Chris Charles (1/19).
Barman came to the crease and rode his luck to begin with but played some exquisite shots in his innings and he was well supported by Manchester captain Bertie Graham.
Jordan Calcutt bowled an excellent spell from the Thatched Cottage End and only went for 23 from his seven overs. In the end though, Sheffield were unable to keep the boundary count down and even though Perry took two late wickets it was not enough.
Sheffield did manage to pick up a win in the only game of their pre-season tour to Somerset. Weather put paid to the two games against Bristol and Bath Universities but the game against Bromsgrove went ahead and Sheffield edged home with a one wicket win.
Perry (2/27) and Phil Singleton (2/24) were the pick of the bowlers as Sheffield kept Bromsgrove to 205.
Haynes and Aitkenhead then set about the chase in an aggressive manner and raced to 60/0 inside ten overs with some sumptuous stroke play.
When Aitkenhead was caught behind for a well-made 45, captain Murrall came to the crease with Carl Baker. Both added quick-fire thirties before giving their wickets away and a mid-order collapse ensued.
Sheffield suddenly found themselves 151/7 as the middle order offered nothing, losing four wickets without adding a run to the score.
Perry combined with wicketkeeper Peter Mounstephen to steady the ship and they appeared to be guiding Sheffield home until both fell in quick succession and last pair of Gibson and Belgian debutant Charl Jones were left to add the final five runs.
Jones somehow conspired to inside edge the ball inches from his stumps and away for the winning run to give the University a victorious start to their season.