Pacific turned in a dogged performance with bat and ball on an idyllic afternoon to secure a draw amid the trees, sunbathers, and indeed dogs, of Highgate Woods.
For a fleeting few overs victory even appeared to be within their grasp, but it was left to Ahmed Hussain and Pranav Chandramouli to serenely see out the closing overs, despite a posse of fielders crowding round the bat, and ensure the team’s efforts under an energy-sapping sun were not in vain.
With Black Rose batting first, bowlers Tom Ireland and Ravi Patel set the tone with a controlled opening burst – both beating the bat and rendering the boundary signs declaring ‘Balls may cross this area’ redundant for several overs.
Despite this, and a brisk burst from Chandramouli, Black Rose made it to 20 overs with all ten wickets intact, and the visitors needing a breakthrough.
Skipper Toby Chasseaud then turned to leg-spinner Hussain – and the breakthrough came not with a trademark looping turner, but a piece of deft footwork that would not have disgraced Lionel Messi.
With non-striker Jo Joseph on 49, his partner fired a straight drive back at Hussain, who managed to deflect the ball on to the stumps with his foot, leaving Joseph stranded, then trudging back to the pavilion.
It would have taken the most flint-hearted of Pacifists not to have felt a pang of pity, but the breakthrough was well deserved – and Hussain followed up with two more conventional wickets, one courtesy of a nonchalant catch at square leg by Lawrence De Glossop and another thanks to a maiden stumping by Aly Duncan.
The wickets brought Black Rose’s big-hitting skipper Andre Mishra to the middle, and Mishra set about accelerating the score with a declaration in mind. He rode his luck – particularly during a fine over of off-spin from Kieran Mullens - while peppering the boundaries, and declared with the score at 249 from 35 overs.
Pacific faltered early on in pursuit of the sizeable target when the unfortunate Ireland, who had earlier been felled by a fierce shy at the stumps from Mullens, fell to a ball that shot through off the surface and bowled him.
Mark Woodland followed soon after, but the middle order of Patel (27), Chasseaud (72) and De Glossop (37) put the momentum back with the visitors, and had Black Rose fearing a first league defeat in two years.
With Chasseaud, who played with power and fluency that spread the field and created gaps as well as several dire fielding mishaps, ably supported by De Glossop, the equation appeared to be turning in Pacific’s favour, with the required rate dipping to 6.5.
De Glossop was bowled by Shoaib, though, and with new batsmen coming in the task grew progressively trickier, especially after Chasseaud fell the same way trying to accelerate the scoring.
As the priority shifted to the extra batting point for reaching 200 and avoiding defeat, Hussain and Chandramouli took centre stage and saw Pacific home for a deserved draw in what was an enjoyable and absorbing contest.