SOUTH Gloucestershire and Stroud (SGS) College have been crowned national champions after winning the Association of Colleges (AOC) T20 Cup.
Captain Praneel Choughule smashed an unbeaten 88 from 51 balls to lead his team to an emphatic nine wicket win over Newcastle Stafford Group (NSG) in the final.
Together with Davis Trego (32*) the pair chased down the target of 148 with 6.1 overs to spare in a dominant 100-run partnership. Earlier an incredible spell of bowling from Frenchay’s Lily Knox – who took 5-9 from her four overs – had turned the game on its head.
Before the introduction of the Gloucestershire Women’s U18 bowler, SGS were up against it as the NSG openers got their side off to a flier, reaching 71 before Izzy Patel, also of Frenchay, made the breakthrough in the seventh over. Despite the wicket, NSG continued to score quickly before Knox came on in the 10th over and changed the game.
Bowling in partnership with county team mate Patel (2-23), Knox grabbed hold of the match, ripping through the NSG top order with a skilful spell featuring subtle variations of pace and canny off cutters.
Up until then SGS looked like they may be chasing in excess of 200 as the NSG openers came out all guns blazing, finding the boundaries at will with some powerful stroke play.
Scoring at a rate SGS hadn’t faced at any time in the tournament, NSG had all the momentum before the remarkable turnaround led by Knox.
She was backed up by some excellent fielding – including a run out and a catch for Bailey Peacock (Bedminster) and a brilliant diving catch from Sam Hunter – as wickets slowed the flow of runs to a trickle and NSG stuttered to a final total of 147.
In reply, SGS started positively but their progress was checked by the loss of Tom Pipe (15) who had captained the side through the earlier rounds of the tournament. With the score on 51-1 Trego (Weston-super-Mare) came in to join Choughule (Thornbury) and together the pair took the attack to the NSG bowlers with increasing brutality.
Choughule – who is on the Gloucestershire Academy – showed his class with 10 fours and four 6s while Trego proved an excellent ally with 32 from 22 balls as the pair went through the gears to seal the AOC title in the 14th over.
Victory capped a thrilling cup run for SGS who needed last ball victories over Cardiff and the Vale and Exeter College in the early stages before completing a more routine win over Worthing College in the Southern Area final. Before beating NSG, the side had to overcome Newham College in the national semi final earlier in the day.
Toby Rice (Lodway) put in an excellent all round performance with an unbeaten 51 and 2-27, backed up by Knox (2-16) and three run outs as SGS completed a comfortable 20 run victory.
Cricket Academy Head Coach Luke Sellers said: “I am really pleased for the students and am proud of the way they performed throughout the tournament. It has been a real squad effort with 17 players involved through the different rounds – all of whom made important contributions.
“This side has found ways to win in all conditions and from all kinds of situations. I think it the hallmark not just of a good team but of the strong team culture they have built up over the year.”