Syed: 'Next four matches will be crucial to Slough's hopes of winning title'

Berkshire player Dan Lincoln scored 32 not out for Slough

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Slough skipper Nadeem Syed believes the next four matches will be crucial to the side’s hopes of winning the Home Counties Division 2 title and promotion back into the top league.

Slough’s players will probably feel they deserve to be back there, having lost only one match all season and triumphed in the Home Counties T20 Blast finals on Sunday – defeating two of the front runners in Division 1, Banbury and Datchet to lift the trophy.

However, Syed is keen for the squad to keep their feet firmly grounded and has urged them not to look too far ahead or become complacent in the coming weeks.

“It was a great weekend for us,” said Syed. “We won the Home Counties Blast final, beating last season’s winners, Banbury, in the semi-final before beating Datchet in the final in a rain curtailed game.

“Winning the cup means a lot to this club and it’s only the second time we’ve won it. We were also the only Division 2 team to reach the finals, with all the other teams in Division 1, so to beat Banbury and Datchet to win was great.”

They’ve two longer format games left to play, starting at sixth placed Wokingham on Saturday – the only team to have defeated them so far this season, and then the win/lose matches return which will likely favour Slough’s bold approach. Perhaps bad weather or poor light is the only thing that can thwart them now, such is their fine form.

They were once again imperious against Horspath on Saturday, restricting their visitors to 211-8 from 56 overs before chasing it down for the loss of three wickets in just over 30 overs. Ali Akbar Raja, who has recently returned to Slough, took 5-72, while Kamran Younas continued his recent good form with an unbeaten 121.

“Horspath are a great team, and we bowled well to restrict them to their total, because the wicket was a belter,” said Syed. “It had been baked all week so it was a good wicket to bat on. We did well to restrict them to 220-odd and then chased them down in 30 overs. Kamran played brilliantly for his 121 not out and other batsmen (most notably Dan and Josh Lincoln, who scored 32no and 26 respectively) chipped in as well.

“We didn’t give many runs away. Ali Akbar bowled well this week. He’s come back to Slough and took five wickets for us.

“Overall, I’m very pleased with how we won the game. It was almost a perfect game for us, but the big risk now is we get complacent and rest on our laurels, thinking everything will be easy which it will not be.

“We’ve got six big games coming up and we’ve got to make sure we keep our feet firmly on the ground and do the basics right.”

Wokingham are the only team to have got the better of Slough this season, both in the league and cup, but Syed is not out for revenge this weekend.

“We lost to Wokingham in only our second game, but that was a close fought match as well,” he said. “I try not to worry about us beating them, rather that our team plays to our strengths and doesn’t get complacent.

“If we do well in the next four games that would really strengthen our position. I say to the team, take one ball at a time and one game at a time, because if you look too far ahead, you’ll fall in the immediate future. It’s important we keep our focus.”

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