The Light Blues finally secured revenge against Oxford after last month’s frustrating T20 defeat.
In the blustery conditions of Lord’s Cambridge were initially unfazed by being put into bat as a solid stand of 127 from Richard Timms and Nipuna Senaratne gave the innings a strong foundation.
Yet the persistence of Oxford spinners Dan Pascoe and Sam Agarwal paid off with the loss of Timms, Seneratne and Paul Best in quick succession.
Luckily for Cambridge, this brought both Ansari brothers to the crease together, and the duo set about brutally plundering the Oxford attack to the delight of the sparse but enthusiastic crowd. The pressure began to show on Oxford as they put down a total of five catches in the whole innings.
With Cambridge storming through their overs, it was clear Oxford needed a breakthrough, and it came from Argarwal in the final over as four Light Blues lost their wickets for just three runs.
This left Oxford with a high but achievable target of 270 runs to win. However, regular wickets cost them the chance to accelerate after a reasonable opening. The left-arm orthodox spin of Surrey’s Zafar Ansari proved particularly tricky to cope with, and his run-out of keeper Sam Westaway left Oxford in trouble at 129-5.
Yet Pascoe was not going down without a fight and his partnership of 56 with Joe Davies cranked up the tension and put Oxford back in the game.
In the end, though, his plucky performance wasn’t enough to hold off a Light Blue victory and a couple of desperate run-outs handed Cambridge the win by 17 runs.
Oxford will look back with regret at the 23 runs conceded from their 49th over, but Cambridge should rightly celebrate a strong performance with commendable batting performances from Timms and the Ansari brothers at its heart
Victory was all the sweeter after Cambridge’s disappointment in the T20, something which the Light Blues clearly felt keenly. Cambridge bowler Matt Hickey spoke to TCS after the match, expressing his joy: “we have made up for a sub par T20 result with a thumping demolition at the home of cricket”. This should give Cambridge the confidence to build on their triumph in their upcoming four-day encounter with Oxford in July.
It was a glorious day all round for Cambridge, as the Women’s team also pulled off a convincing victory in their Varsity contest, thrashing Oxford by 126 runs.