Stirling County (25 pts) 144
Greenock (9 pts) 123 for 6
Stirling County’s score adjusted to 129 in 26 overs under DLS
ANOTHER summer Saturday dawned to leaden skies and intermittent rain. The net effect of that was that Greenock’s match with Stirling County at Glenpark was unable to start on time, the wet state of the square in particular causing concern to the umpires.
When play did eventually get underway at 3.30pm, the delay of more than three hours meant that the game was reduced to one of 30 overs per side.
Stirling won the toss and elected to bat but Greenock made an early breakthrough when Sam Sanghera got a positive leg before wicket (LBW) decision from the umpire in the fourth over to dismiss the visitors’ captain, Matt Tweedie for just seven with the total on nine.
Stirling’s other opener, Shirish Shetty, was then joined by Amir Shahzad and these two began to get the scoreboard moving. Shahzad did most of the scoring and he was especially severe on young Sean Fischer-Keogh who had replaced Bandekar in the attack. With the bowlers limited to just six overs each, Bandekar, who has taken over the captaincy of the team from Neil Flack after he stood down to concentrate on his own performance, had to shepherd his bowling resources.
Rod Mountford took over from Sanghera whilst Flack was brought on for Fischer-Keogh. And it was Flack who captured the next wicket, inducing Shetty to give a catch to Rod Mountford with the score on 55. Tom Bradburn, the younger son of ex-Scottish coach Grant Bradburn, joined Shahzad and these two continued to maintain a good scoring rate of around five per over.
When drinks were taken at the halfway stage of the Stirling innings, the score sitting at 73 for 2, Chris Hempsey took over the wicket-keeping duties from Zac Barrenechea. This allowed the latter to replace Flack in the attack and in his second over, he bowled Bradburn for nine. Better was to follow in the next over, the last of Mountford’s allotted spell, when Shahzad fell leg-before for a fine 50.
When Barrenechea obtained a similar decision to remove the dangerous Tom Jones without scoring, Stirling had slumped to 96 for 5 and Greenock had gained some momentum with just nine overs left in the innings. To their credit, Stirling were able to eke out another 48 runs before they were all out in the 29th over. Neil Flack claimed the wicket of ex-Greenock player, Louis Ware, bowled for eight, and Akash Rawal was run out just after this for one.
With the score on 116 for 7, Greenock would have been hopeful of ending the innings quickly but Rukman Hewage and Akram Shakoor both scored 15 and saw the total up to 144. Bandekar claimed the last three wickets and ended with 3 for 26 in his 6 overs, although his last two overs went for 16, including an expensive five wides delivery. Neil Flack with 2 for 15 and Zac Barrenechea with 2 for 17 were the other chief wicket-takers while Rod Mountford took 3 catches.
With tea having been taken while the teams were waiting for the square to dry, play resumed after the ten-minute interval to roll and re-mark the pitch. Greenock’s openers, Flack and Barrenechea, made a steady start but after 6.4 overs and with the score on 32 without loss, there was a brief rain shower which forced the players from the field. Play restarted some 18 minutes later but the interruption resulted in the DLS scoring system being implemented as four overs of play had been lost.
Greenock’s target to win was now 130 in 26 overs, which was well within their grasp. With the score on 42, Barrenechea became the first wicket to fall when he was caught by Bradburn off the bowling of Shahzad for 19. Bandekar was next in and he and Flack made steady progress towards their target, maintaining a run rate that was close to what was required. They seemed to be setting a good platform for victory when Flack was dismissed in the 17th over, caught by Shahzad off Hewage for a fine 37, as he continued his return to form.
Rod Mountford was next man in and, while he and Bandekar kept their wickets intact, crucially the run rate began to rise. Mountford was dismissed in the 23rd over, caught and bowled by Hewage for 13. Twenty-two runs were required for victory with 18 balls remaining.
Stirling now brought back their opening bowler, Akram Shakoor, and this was the decisive moment in the game. It was clear that Greenock’s hopes of victory required Saurabh Bandekar to be there at the end but the second ball of Shakoor’s spell saw him trap the Indian in front for 30. Chirag Pandher was bowled off the last ball of the over and the equation was now 19 runs off 12 balls.
Chris Hempsey and Sam Sanghera took eight off the penultimate over which meant it was 10 for a tie and 11 for the win off the last over. Unfortunately for Greenock, Shakoor’s second ball saw Hempsey bowled for eight and the winning runs could not be found off the remainder of the over.
Not for the first time this season, Greenock came up just short with the batting not strong enough to claim the win. In fairness, the team was lacking the services of Shailesh Prabhu, Jonathan Hempsey, Sehmat Pandher and Greg McDougall and the loss of such experience was undoubtedly telling.
The one consolation to be taken from the loss was the gain of the full nine bonus points but even these were not enough to see Greenock out of the relegation area. Currently they sit in ninth position, ahead of East Kilbride and just behind Drumpellier and it does look as if the two sides to go down will come from these three, as Stirling and Poloc have now put some daylight between themselves and them.
Next week sees Greenock travel to Shawholm to take on Poloc, still searching for that elusive first win. Hopefully some of those missing from this week’s game will be available but, whichever 11 players take the field, they need to remain positive and believe that their luck will turn.
Glenpark XI defeated by Hamilton Crescent
The Glenpark XI returned without the win points from their encounter with Hamilton Crescent. Batting first, they were dismissed for 126 and Hamilton Crescent were able to overtake that total for the loss of just three wickets.
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