The race at the top of the Birmingham League Premier Division Two is hotting up as Oswestry moved within two points of leaders Harborne who they defeated on Saturday in dramatic style.

Oswestry welcomed the league leaders to the Stonehouse Oval knowing a win could see them take their guests’ place in first place.

The Bordermen’s triumph follows their emphatic victory over Wolverhampton the previous weekend and sees them climb into third position in the table.

Chasing a daunting total of 279, the visitors looked content to see the game out and settle for a draw with the score at 121-6, but skipper Dean Suter had other ideas.

He looked for a change of pace, recalling his seam attack – a decision which proved to be inspired.

Overseas professional Larry Samarakoon immediately struck, spreadeagling Danny Wright’s stumps with a fine, full-length delivery.

Samarakoon then had Tom Payne caught behind before Ben Roberts clean bowled George Land.

With nine balls remaining, Samarakoon trapped Zak Sinkinson lbw on the back foot, to set off wild celebrations amongst the Oswestry players as the home side won by 100 runs, leaving visiting skipper Jim Hunt stranded on 46. The last three Harborne wickets fell in just 15 balls.

The Oswestry attack maintained its discipline throughout, with spin twins Warrick Fynn and Sam Davies capturing the first five wickets. Fynn claimed the prized wicket of Indian star Swapnil Gugale. Only two seasons ago the Harborne run machine scored 351 in the Ranji Trophy and featured in the second highest partnership in first-class cricket.

Gugale was deceived in the flight, being snared by Alex Huxley at midwicket for 45, the second of Huxley’s three well-taken catches.

Fynn finished with 3-31 and young Davies 2-55 before Samarakoon, Roman Walker and Roberts removed the lower order. Samarakoon took the bowling honours with 3-21.

The foundations for this important victory were once again laid by opening pair Fynn (85) and Joe Carrasco (70) who put on 146 for the first wicket, as the visiting attack wilted in the heat, with a total in excess of 300 looking likely at one time.

But when Carrasco chased a wide one from Tom Payne and was caught behind for an excellent 70 off 75 balls, soon to be followed by Samarakoon and then Fynn – who played splendidly for his 85 – Harborne found their way back into the game.

Gugale’s clever off spin posed a constant threat, but responsible batting from both Huxley (23) and Walker steered Oswestry back on course to a very commanding total.

Walker, celebrating his call-up to the Glamorgan squad for their Championship game with Worcestershire, batted with extreme maturity, applying sound defence before unleashing a savage onslaught on the Harborne attack.

His final 15 balls yielded 41 runs in a quite brilliant innings which thrilled the good-sized home crowd.

Walker was finally bowled off the last delivery of the Oswestry innings by the Gugale (6-40) for a brilliant 73 off 74 balls, including six fours and four sixes.

Oswestry travel to second played Ombersley on Saturday when they will be without talisman, Fynn, but confidence is high, with the squad due to be further strengthened shortly by the return of talented youngsters Xavier Clarke and Connor Davies. Skipper Suter is looking to maintain his side’s challenge to rivals at top of the Division as the season enters its second half.

Meanwhile, Oswestry seconds stormed to a seven-wicket victory over Wellington on Saturday.

It was a good weekend for Oswestry Outlaws in the Shropshire Womens and Girls League SCB Outdoor Soft Ball League after they claimed their first win of the season over leaders Whitchurch.