Ayr edge closer to Western Premier Title
AYR defied the elements and an improving West of Scotland side to take another huge stride towards the title with an emphatic win at Hamilton Crescent.
The biggest surprise on a day of heavy squally showers and blustery winds was that three of the four scheduled top flight games reached a conclusion, only the encounter between East Kilbride and Drumpellier at Torrance House being completely washed-out.
Batting first Ayr did well to reach 166-6 from 30.5 overs in what was a frustratingly rain-interrupted and truncated innings.
Set a revised target of 132 from twenty overs West were never in the hunt and, again in atrocious conditions, were all out in the final over, having stuttered to a disappointing 81.
Ayr skipper Andi McElnea declared: “It was a great effort to get the game on considering the weather and a great performance from us.
“We were ruthless in the second half with our bowling but it was really a fantastic whole team effort.”
There were, though, some exceptional individual performances, notably from McElnea himself and his younger brother Scott.
While Scott is better known for his pace bowling it was his top-score of 35 which caught the eye on Saturday, an effort matched by Steve Liburd, the Leeward Islander who made a big impression for the second week running.
Young Shujaa Khan’s unbeaten 25 was also important as Ayr recovered from the loss of early wickets to post a challenging total.
The McElnea brothers then combined to great effect to claim eight of the West wickets, Scott taking 3-10 but being outshone by the skipper who again demonstrated his growing prowess as a spinner with 5-16.
McElnea added: “Scott played a top knock to propel us to 166 and young Shujaa showed a lot of composure when we needed it.”
Ayr will be crowned champions next week providing they take at least four points from their home encounter with Clydesdale who kept their slender hopes alive by beating Renfrew.
In another rain-reduced affair, Renfrew’s Ahmed Said played the innings of the day, his well-crafted 67no helping the visitors post 134-2 from their twenty-seven overs.
It was not enough, though, as Paddy Barbour’s hard-hitting 47 put Dale on course for a seven-wicket win which was achieved with more than five overs to spare.
The Glasgow club, Scottish Cup finalists and still on course for the National T20 Cup final, could still pip Ayr to the title but it would require them to win their final two games and the unbeaten league leaders to lose both theirs.
Despite the title being so tantalisingly close, McElnea is taking nothing for granted and said: “Next week is a big game and hopefully we can continue our high standards in the field.
“Our batting still not clicking at the moment but that's still to come. The whole club is buzzing at the moment and it's fully deserved as we see on and off the field hard work beginning to pay off.”
Outgoing champions Uddingston suffered a heavy defeat to Dumfries at Nunholm where Pat Druce’s five wickets saw the visitors dismissed for just 72 in 29.5 overs.
Alan Davidson then stroked 36no as Dumfries cruised to a nine-wicket success inside sixteen overs.