CHESHIRE booked themselves a lucrative home tie in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy with a stunning victory against Bedfordshire at Wardown Park, Luton.
A defiant innings of 75 from Nafees Din, of Mobberley, and 68 from opener Alexis Twigg laid the platform for Cheshire to post 241-8 from their allotted 50 overs.
Stand-in skipper Richard Hignett (36), in charge of the side in the absence of Andy Hall (broken finger), was also in the runs.
But it was clever bowling from former Hampshire ace Simon Renshaw (3-50) and Oulton Park seamer, Jason Whittaker (3-29), which helped the visitors dismiss their opponents 40 runs short of the victory line. Overseas West Indian paceman Marlon King (1-36, from 10 overs), and 2-44 from Dave Pennett also laid the platform for sweet success.
It was a brave effort from Cheshire after Bedfordshire had raced to 82 for no wicket.
However, four wickets for 13 runs - two each for Renshaw and Whittaker - made sure the match swung in Cheshire's favour in a tense finish.
Victory means they will host a first-class county in the competition, with the chance to generate a large local interest, as well as some welcome revenue through the gates.
Hignett said: "It's important for the county because we can get the chance to play a first-class county - and that's something that everyone can look forward to."
And Hignett paid special praise to his bowlers, as well as batting stars Twigg and Din, who really got the Cheshire innings flying.
"Twiggy has come in and done brilliantly and his runs were very important," added Hignett. "Nafees has done brilliantly as well. He took time to play himself, but after that he smashed it all over the park."
Indeed, Din's innings included 9x4s and 2x6s, but it was Twigg, who won the man-of-the-match award with his 68 coming off only 69 balls.
And Hignett now wants Cheshire to play Lancashire in the next round.
"Lancashire would be the obvious choice," he said. "It would guarantee a big crowd."
CHESHIRE 241-8 (N Din 75, A Twigg 68, R Hignett 36, A Roberts 4-38); BEDFORDSHIRE 202 all out (J Whittaker 3-29 , S Renshaw 3-50, D Pennett 2-44) RESULT: Cheshire won by 39 runs