Mohammed Sohail scored an unbeaten century as Essex Tigers made a perfect start to their BCEW Nemisys Blind Cricket League campaign with a 133-run win over Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
Sohail's century was the mainstay of the hosts' 220 for six - a target Northamptonshire never threatened as they collapsed to 87 all out.
Along with Hampshire, Essex and Northamptonshire are new to the league this season although both teams fielded a few experienced players who had previously played for other clubs the previous season.
Northamptonshire won the toss and asked Essex to bat on a pitch with larger-than-usual boundaries but good batting conditions.
Essex started cautiously and lost their first wicket in the fifth over of the game, Shazad Iqbal bowled by Brad Fisher. Essex were laying a base, though, and though they were 88 for three after 14 overs, with a wicket each for David Gavrilovic and Edward Claridge, the Steelbacks may have expected an onslaught.
Shah Miah provided a catalyst with a six and a four in consecutive balls and although he fell soon after, Sohail and Nazam Safder (23) took up the challenge, scoring freely with one Nick Killen over going for 20 runs.
Safder fell with 15 balls remaining but Essex were able to post 220 before declaring at 30 overs, helped largely by the last 15 balls containing 32 runs as Sohail finished on 100 not out.
Northamptonshire were in early trouble with Miah's first over a real mixed bag with three extras and three wickets including a spilled caught and bowled chance which was caught by another fielder.
A makeshift Steelbacks batting line-up were soon up against it at 12 for five with the top five batsmen falling without scoring. Elliot Stonhill and Alastair Provan were able to take the team past their lowest ever total with a partnership of 20 before Stonhill was caught off the bowling of Fiaz Iqbal, one of his three wickets in the game.
Provan batted well with the tail, making the most of some leg-side deliveries and Essex blooding some of their part-time bowlers to take the score up to 87 before the final wicket fell, with the tenth wicket partnership containing 35 runs, the same as the first eight wickets combined. Provan finished not out on 35 as Essex cantered to victory by 135 runs, Miah and Iqbal taking three wickets apiece.
The Essex team would like to extend their thanks to Dave Spector and Robert Fenton who umpired on the day, and also Loughton Cricket Club, Cliff and Jo Greenhill in particular, who were fantastic hosts during the club's first ever game.
ECB, 5th May 2009