Raja century sees Lancaster to Twenty20 win over Morecambe

Rameez Raja on his way to 100 for Lancaster against Morecambe in their T20 opener on Friday night. Picture: Tony North
Rameez Raja on his way to 100 for Lancaster against Morecambe in their T20 opener on Friday night. Picture: Tony North

A stunning century from Rameez Raja saw Lancaster draw first blood in this year’s Twenty20 with a fine victory over Morecambe.

The Pakistan international moved through the gears supremely to score exactly 100 as the LPNM Lunesiders won by 29 runs at Woodhill Lane on Friday night in the opening game of this year’s competition.

The professional’s ton helped Lancaster post 153-5 batting first with the hosts coming up short despite a half century from their own international, Sri Lankan Suraj Randiv.

Lancaster lost Lee Sparks (6), who hit a towering maximum before becoming the first of Eddy Read’s four victims, early with Jamie Heywood (8) soon to follow bowled by Jamie Cassidy (1-24) having hit the young seamer for a crisp four down the ground.

Raja had also hit early boundaries and found support from Charlie Swarbrick (28).

The pair rotated the strike through the middle overs, Swarbrick hitting one fine straight six off Gert Maartens.

Raja was the next to clear to rope in the 14th over, showing no mercy to young Lewis Smith, with his 50 being brought up off the next ball.

Morecambe had chances to remove Lancaster’s danger man, captain Josh Dixon seeing a skied chance hit the turf before Maartens spilled a caught and bowled.

Raja continued to accelerate, hitting another maximum off Smith before Maartens put a second chance down as Swarbrick edged to short third man.

The Pakistani was now taking the game away from Morecambe, hitting Read for a brace of boundaries in the 18th before the former Settle man removed Swarbrick stumped by Lewis Edge.

Raja then did some real damage in the final over, dropped over the rope on one occasion as he hit three sixes before he was out off the final ball of the innings hitting the ball straight up in the air off Read (4-45) with Edge taking a simple catch.

In all, the professional’s first Lancaster century included four fours and six sixes.

Morecambe openers Dixon and Edge start circumspectly and after Kieran Moffat had spilled a chance off brother Liam’s bowling to remove the latter, the pressure told in the sixth over.

Looking to force the pace Edge holed out to Heywood in the deep to give Liam Moffat (1-8) his wicket and leave the hosts 25-1.

Professional Randiv entered and rotated the strike nicely with Dixon but Morecambe were always behind the rate required.

The captain did hit his side’s first six in off his opposite number Simm (2-26) before Randiv repeated the feat off young seamer Callum East in the next over.

Dixon (33) was to fall soon after however, going for another maximum off Simm he saw Iain Burstow expertly flick the ball back into play for Raja to take the catch leaving Morecambe 68-2 in the 11th over.

Randiv kept going as Ryan Pearson came and went for just two nicking Simm behind to Sparks.

The Sri Lankan was quickly becoming Morecambe’s only hope, lifting Burstow’s first ball over deep mid wicket for six.

He then passed 50 but in the same over, the 16th, saw Read clean bowled by the medium pace of Raja (3-24) to leave Morecambe 103-4 chasing 154 to win.

Randiv was then to fall soon after with Morecambe’s hopes going with him as he skied Burstow (1-18) to Heywood in the deep, departing for 51.

Maartens (15 not out) provided some entertainment late on with a maximum off Burstow but it was too little, too late for the hosts.

The sides will meet in the return fixture at Lune Road this Friday night, a 6.30pm start.