FAZIAN Riaz pummeled the Exeter attack for an unbeaten 159 as Plymouth started moving towards Premier Division safety with victory in the inter-city clash.
Exeter were the next team up the table from Plymouth going into round 11 – and the team they have to get past to exit the bottom two.
Plymouth couldn’t do more than get all 20 points – and against an Exeter side containing three England U19 squad men that’s a great achievement.
Technically, Plymouth aren’t out of the bottom two yet as they and Exeter are level on 114 points, ahead of Heathcoat on 105.
The bottom four all play among themselves this Saturday – Plymouth at Paignton, Exeter and Heathcoat on the County Ground – and with just 18 points between them the situation could easily change.
Plymouth didn’t get the start they wanted when Exeter paceman Tom Pedel nipped out Ben Stein in the first over.
That brought Riaz to the crease sooner than expected at first wicket down – and there stayed for the next three hours and 12 minutes.
A stand of 15 between Riaz and surviving opener James Toms (39) got Plymouth up to 115. From then on it was Riaz all the way with a bit of help at the other end.
No other Plymouth batsman made more than nine as Riaz dominated the bowling almost exclusively.
In stands of 37 with Steve Luffman and 38 with Sam Stein, the running mates made seven each.
Tom Lammonby, one of Exeter’s rising England U19 stars, took three Plymouth wickets for 53 runs. Dom Bess, another Somerset contracted player and England prospect, had one for 24 of six.
Riaz made 159 off 150 balls and hit 18 fours and three sixes in Plymouth’s total of 253 all out.
Exeter needed to score at five an over to win, so slumping to 31 for four in the 11th over wasn’t the start the hoped for.
Plymouth skipper Sam Stein was the man of the moment with three wickets – ex-Devon opener Rob Holman, Devon Lions batter Harvey Sargent and Bess.
Alex Barrow, the ex-Somerset batter currently playing for Gloucestershire 2nd XI, was the fourth man out – cleaned up by Dan Goodey (2-37).
Ben Green – the third member of the England trio – fashioned a fightback with Lammonby to get Exeter back in the game at 113 for five.
Riaz (3-45) bowled Green (35), but the recovery continued with Lammonby and Sean Morris putting on 52.
At 165 for five with 13 overs left and Lammonby going well, Exeter were in the game.
The returning Goodey snapped up Morris caught behind, the Riaz snared Lammonby lbw for 68.
Exeter were all out for 205 with four overs unbowled.
Winning captain Sam Stein said: That’s two wins on the bounce now and we are moving forward nicely.
“I was very happy with the way the boys played against a very good Exeter side.
“Looking at their batting line-up, it is definitely one of the best in the Premier Division..
“Hats off to Faz, who batted brilliantly again. We are also aware that the rest of us need to contribute with the bat as well.”
Player-coach Alex Barrow skippered Exeter in the absence of Miles Lenygon, He said there could be no complaints about the size and shape of the defeat.
“Riaz batted very nicely and stood alone in their batting display and got them to a par score,” said Barrow.
“Sam Stein and Dan Goodey bowled well up front for Plymouth and Exeter never got going in the chase, although Tom Lammonby showed his class as a fine young player.
“Plymouth were worthy of their win.”