Oxford secured a nine run victory over Cambridge at Lord’s, a satisfying result after last week’s ten run defeat in the 20-over format.
Despite a green wicket and light cloud coverage, Oxford chose to bat first upon winning the toss. This decision was validated as the openers began well, withstanding some probing bowling, tallying a patient 35 without loss from the first eight overs.
Moses was the pick of the bowlers early, conceding just 18 runs off his first five overs. Despite a few nervous flashes past second slip, Oxford looked comfortable before Escott chopped onto his own stumps for 21.
Naylor and Hughes consolidated nicely, battling a workman-like Poulson, who bowled a 9 over spell of 0/32. The pair built an impressive 52 run partnership before the captain Hughes was unluckily run out for 32. A strong straight drive from Naylor was finger-tipped by Poulson before hitting the stumps at the non-striker’s end, where Hughes was out of his ground.
Gnodde arrived at the crease with the intent of upping the run rate, and he did just that on his way to an impressive 76 off 60. After being dropped on the boundary on 51, Gnodde looked like leading Oxford towards a damaging total before an innings defining spell from Moses.
Taking four wickets in three overs, Moses sparked a middle order batting collapse that saw Oxford lose four wickets for just 22. However, the Oxford tail wagged, with a quick-fire 16 run cameo from Marsden seeing Oxford end on 264/8.
Cambridge responded confidently but Marsden’s opening spell of 2/18 off six left the game evenly poised at 52/2 after 12. A frustrating day for Cambridge beckoned as the top order all got starts but failed to carry on.
As Cambridge fell to 111/4, the momentum was well and truly with Oxford, but the introduction of the star with the ball, Tim Moses, changed everything. His 66 run partnership with Dalgleish put Cambridge right back in the game, with Moses’ rapid 45 off 35 threatening to take the game away.
However, the reintroduction of Marsden into the attack brought about a much needed wicket, and the departure of Moses immediately slowed the run rate. Tensions were high at the 40 over mark, as Cambridge required a further 64 runs from the final 60 balls, with five wickets in hand.
A fine bowling performance from Swanson removed Dalgleish for 68 in the 41st over, and from there, Oxford had the upper hand. However, with two overs remaining Cambridge were still very much in the game, needing 21 runs with three wickets to spare. But the wickets kept falling.
Fittingly, Marsden bowled the final over, and picked up the final wicket of the match, bowling opposition skipper Patrick Tice around his legs, to finish with impressive match high figures of 4/33.
Tensions were high and the crowd was vocal in the final few overs, but a strong all round bowling performance from Oxford, particularly from the spin brigade secured a deserving win. Gnodde (76) and Naylor (52) were standouts with the bat while Marsden (4/33 and Swanson (4/58) were the key wicket tackers for Oxford. Tim Moses (4/56 and 45 off 35) was mightily impressive, but it was not enough to secure his side the victory.
The teams appear evenly matched for what will be an exciting four-day game in Cambridge next month.