EASTNOR skipper Clive Chadhani admitted that Birmingham League Division Two pacemakers Penkridge were too hot to handle on the day as his side went down to an eight-wicket reverse.

"We were outclassed and outplayed on the day," said Chadhani. "They are a good batting and bowling side."

Chadhani remained hopeful that his side will maintain the improvement shown over the last few weeks despite a temporary set-back.

"Early on in the season, I was not winning the toss and we were getting put into bat on pitches offering a lot of sideways movement," he said. "It was usually a case of win the toss and win the match.

"Lately we have been back on firmer pitches and I have moved Shahid Ahmed to a higher position in the batting order and he has taken on more responsibility.

"On Saturday, Shahid was able to bowl just one over because of a knee injury - he has been my premium seam bowler - and we were also without Sajid Ali, who has worked hard this season and been our strike bowler."

Against Penkridge, Chadhani won the toss and chose to bat but there were two early setbacks with Sunil Rahi and debutant Dave Waters, the former Harvington batsman, dismissed with only 10 on the board.

Opener Andrew Fisher held the innings together with a fine 83, including 12 fours and a six from 137 balls, but wickets continued to fall regularly at the other end.

"Andrew batted very well and it was his best innings for us," said Eastnor's Malcolm Hughes. "He was beaten a few times early on but he didn't let it worry him."

Providing most of the problems for the Eastnor batting line-up was Kuwaiti international Muhammad Murad who returned the excellent figures of 7-35 from 14 overs.

"He was a bit too fast for us," admitted Hughes. "He is a quick left-arm bowler who swings the ball back in to the right-hander. He was a bit of a handful."

Aside from Fisher, only Atiq ur Rehman (14) and skipper Chadhani (10) made it into double-figures as the home side were bowled out for only 158.

After being unable to bowl for the last few games due to a knee injury, there had been hopes that Shahid would again be available to open the attack.

But the tall seamer managed just one over from a two-pace run-up before being forced to withdraw.

Faisal Khalid (1-34) and Shameer Ahmed (1-25) picked up an early wicket apiece but that was as good as it got for the home side with Rana Hassan, who crashed 13 fours and two sixes as he reached an unbeaten 101 from only 82 balls, and former Herefordshire batsman Attiq Chishti (34 not out) guided their side to a victory with 25 overs to spare.

"A major problem for us is that we do not have strength in depth when there are injuries," said Chadhani. "There is a big gap in quality between the first team and the second team."

Hughes, meanwhile, acknowledged the high standard shown by the opposition.

"I would put money on them winning the division," he said.