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Khawaja hits century as Falcons beat Unicorns in Festival opener

Usman Khawaja hit a maiden one-day century for the Falcons as the hosts began the Chesterfield Festival of Cricket with a 35 run win over the Unicorns at Queen's Park.

The Australian Test international was in fine form, hitting 104 after Derbyshire had lost the toss and asked to bat first; the hosts reaching 235-7 before a Mark Turner-inspired Derbyshire bowled the visitors out for 200.

The Falcons began brightly with openers Chesney Hughes and Khawaja looking comfortable at the crease; the pair progressing the Derbyshire score to 50 without loss after ten overs.

With both finding the boundaries with regularity and remaining largely untroubled, the hosts were soon bringing up the 100 run partnership from 19 overs.

Chesney Hughes was the first to make 50, reaching the landmark from 52 balls, including seven fours and a six; the 21-year-old hitting his 1000th List A run in the process.

Khawaja was soon following suit, his half-century coming from 66 deliveries including five fours and a six as the Falcons built a strong foundation.

That foundation had reached 137 from 27 overs before Hughes – who had previously been dropped on 62 – became the first wicket to fall; miscuing a drive off Bradley Wadlan and finding Luke Beavan at cover for 66.

The wicket provided only a brief respite however, with Khawaja and Wes Durston taking the Falcons total well past 150; the former edging closer to a first one-day century for Derbyshire.

Having looked comfortable all afternoon, the Australian’s hundred duly arrived in the 34th over, secured from 102 deliveries with ten fours and two sixes as the Falcons passed 200.

However it was Khawaja who was next to go, bowled Beaven for 104, to set the catalyst for a late flurry of wickets as Wayne Madsen (4), Dan Redfern (2) and Garry Park (0) quickly departed.

Durston – who had ticked along nicely with Khawaja  - then hit a huge six over wide long-on to take his score to 44 but he too was then dismissed; LBW to Glen Querl with the very next delivery.

The wicket procession concluded with the dismissal of Jon Clare (7) in the final over as the Falcons closed their innings on 235-7 with former Lancashire fast bowler Steven Cheetham taking 2-40 from his eight overs.

Having watched the Falcons get off to a decent start, the Unicorns set about their run chase in much the same manner; James Ord and Bradly Wadlan taking the visitors score to 43 inside eight overs.

 However their progress was checked when the former was trapped LBW to Jon Clare for 14.

Wadlan – who had hit the ball cleanly throughout his innings – then failed to connect with an attempted drive off Durston, resulting in David Wainwright swooping in from mid-on to take a comfortable catch; the opener gone for 29 and the Unicorns 55-2.

Luis Reece and former Derbyshire loanee Tom New then began repairing the damage, taking the Unicorns to three figures in the 20th over to leave the game firmly in the balance.

However New (31) then edged behind looking to cut Durston to give debutant Richard Johnson his first Derbyshire dismissal behind the stumps.

Unicorns captain Keith Parsons was then involved in a mix-up with Reece, resulting in the former being run out by Jon Clare without scoring; the two quick wickets leaving the visitors 100-4.

Reece and Craig Park – brother of Derbyshire’s Garry – then stabilised the innings, taking the total towards 150.

At 145-4 at the end of the 30th over, the match was still in the balance, however when Mark Turner removed Park’s middle stump for 15, the Falcons were back in the ascendency.

With Reece passing 50 and former Northants batsman Vishal Tripathi at the opposite end, the Unicorns were in with a chance, however the momentum shifted once again when the latter was caught by Madsen off the bowling of Turner for 11; the Unicorns 165-6 in the 33rd over and still requiring 71 runs.

The Unicorns' hopes lay with Reece, however the Somerset-born batsman became Turner's third victim, caught Redfern for an impressive 63-ball 59, to leave the visitors with a mlountain to climb.

That task was made all the more difficult when Glen Querl played on to Tim Groenewald for 11 and when Cheetham was bowled Turner to become his fourth victim, the Unicorns were 200 all out and the Falcons victorious by 35 runs. 

For the Falcons, Turner finished with figures of 4-54 from seven overs, with Durston returning figures of 2-30 from eight overs.

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Attentions now turn to Wednesday and the return to LV=County Championship action with the visit of Yorkshire to Queen's Park, with tickets still available for the advanced price of £13.

 

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