HEREFORDSHIRE opened their NCCA 50-over competition campaign with a one-wicket defeat by Cumbria in the most thrilling of circumstances.

In perfect cricketing conditions at Brockhampton, the visitors reached the start of the last over needing seven to win but with only one wicket remaining.

And last pair Nico Watt and Matthew Siddall whittled the target down during those final six deliveries from Roshan Venkataraman (2-38) before racing through to complete a single from the last ball to grab the victory.

Chasing a total of 228 to win, Cumbria, the beaten finalists in last-year’s competition, had seemed in trouble after losing four early wickets to stand at 60-4.

But an excellent partnership of 124 for the fifth wicket between skipper Michael Slack (65) and Matthew Sempill (69) restored their advantage before some fine Herefordshire bowling and fielding, with Adam Hines (3-48) and James Rudge (2-47) much to the fore in both disciplines, brought the home side surging back into contention.

Earlier, Herefordshire had made a stuttering start after winning the toss and choosing to bat, losing three wickets, including the important one of skipper Matt Pardoe (19), with only 36 on the board.

But an excellent innings from the in-form Ollie Rogoff saw the total rise to a competitive one.

Rogoff made hardly a mistake in his 108-ball 87 in which he hit 10 fours and two sixes. He was joined in a fine stand of 71 for the fourth wicket by Callum Bennett (27).

Venkataraman then joined the Barnards Green player in another excellent stand of 61 for the sixth wicket with the all-rounder striking three fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 43 before the innings closed on 227-9.

Herefordshire continue their programme in the group stages by travelling to Jesmond on Sunday to take on Northumberland, who opened their campaign with a six-wicket win over Lincolnshire.