A 160-RUN partnership condemned Oxfordshire to defeat in their opening three-day match of the summer.

The hosts set Cheshire 213 to win on the final afternoon of their NCCA Western Division 1 clash at Banbury CC, but their opponents beat the weather and the clock to chase down the target.

Superb knocks from Robert Sehmi (80) and Sam Perry (76) saw the visitors home, with the latter smashing his way to the total with 14 runs off the final three balls of the 46th over.

Oxon picked up seven points and sit bottom of the group, although three of the four sides above them have played a game more.

They head west this weekend to face neighbours Wiltshire in their next outing, with proceedings at South Wilts CC getting under way on Sunday.

The fixture began how it ended – under grey skies – as Oxon captain Jonny Cater won the toss and elected to bat.

The home side began at a steady pace and reached lunch on day one at 98/3, although that total would have looked even better if Olly Clarke had not been trapped lbw by David Wainwright with the final ball of the session.

Harry Smith fell for 42 shortly after play restarted following some tight bowling from Cheshire and a steady stream of wickets, including Tom Cosford for 39, left Oxon 166/6.

That saw George Tait and Gareth Andrew join forces and the pair set about regaining the momentum with a 102-run partnership.

Tait was dismissed for exactly 50, but Andrew posted an excellent 73 before he was bowled by Wainwright.

It helped Oxon reach 329/9, before Robbie Shurmer bowled Timothy Hughes late in the first day to leave Cheshire 18/1.

The sun was shining on the players on Monday and the hosts struck quickly again, with Perry caught behind off Andrew’s bowling for eight.

But Cheshire’s first huge third-wicket stand put them in the driving seat as Calum Rowe and Sehmi guided them to 153/2 at lunch.

Oxon had to strike quickly and Joe Thomas did the damage, removing the duo for 75 and 65 in the space of three overs.

Their fortunes had only briefly changed, however, as Will Evans came in for a brilliant – and crucial – knock.

Cheshire’s No 6 hit 112 off 97 balls, smashing 12 fours and five sixes, as the visitors declared on 354/8, with Tait taking four wickets.

The visitors had a small lead of 25, but struck four times early on to leave Oxon 59/4.

Cosford and Tait steadied the ship at the end of day two, however, closing on 72 and 35 respectively to haul the hosts to 168/4 – a lead of 143.

When play resumed yesterday the pair started well, with Cosford climbing into the 90s.

But he was agonisingly removed for 96 – less than four overs after Tait was bowled by Ben Gibbon for 42 – to leave Oxon 200/6.

The same player dismissed Andrew two balls later and successfully kept the run rate down, alongside Wainwright, with Oxon only managing 237.

Cheshire had an eye on the weather – especially after Thomas removed Hughes and Rowe lbw – but Perry and Sehmi took just 26 overs to reach the target.