CSL Premier Review
Champions Uddingston surely saw their grip on the Western Union decisively loosened yesterday after slumping to a fourth defeat of the season to an Ayr side who may very well lay claim to the Bothwell side’s silverware.
Having beaten yesterday’s hosts on the opening day of the campaign, the Alloway side proved it was no fluke with another battling success to maintain the only unbeaten record in the division.
There were anxious moments especially when the visitors, having lost a couple of quick wickets, had to settle for a moderate 166 and again when Uddingston briefly recovered from their own early wobble.
However, they were convincing winners by 46 runs in the end and are the team to beat during the second half of the season.
Uddingston, pursuing an apparently modest tally, suffered the worst possible start as their openers were back in the pavilion within the first four overs.
Gautham Rai was first to go, wandering carelessly out of his crease to be run out by Scott McElnea’s direct hit.
Mo Kamran, who survived a shout for caught behind in the opening over, was unable to make the most of the reprieve and was instead brilliantly caught down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Neil Smith off Sikander Raza.
Uddingston desperately needed a steadying hand and it was provided by Sammy Zia who calmly went about his business while Amir Gul settled in at the other end.
The pair took the score from 13-2 to 48 but were unable to convert a promising start into a stand of match-winning proportions.
Instead Zia was stumped by Smith off Raza to spark a steady procession during which Gul top-scored with 31 and Ricky Bawa offered late resistance with a hard-hitting 22.
Skipper Andi McElnea was the most successful bowler with 3-11.
Earlier Ayr came out firing in a bid for quick runs but paid the price as both Smith and Andi McElnea fell during the opening salvo.
Smith was first to go when he offered a catch to Rai off Gul and the same bowler took a return catch to dismiss McElnea.
It was left to Raza to hold the innings together with an innings of controlled aggression which yielded more than half of his side’s runs.
The Pakistan-born Zimbabwean all-rounder was already the Union’s top scorer and he strengthened his position in the runs chart in some style.
Indeed, for a while it looked as if Raza would match last week’s century against Dumfries.
He was to fall short on this occasion but not before giving the home bowlers a rough ride, particularly Matt McEwan who suffered the indignity of twice being hooked for sixes, the second of which brought up the batsman’s half-century.
There was a third even bigger maximum to come, Raza again hooking and sending Gavin Bradley’s delivery soaring over the beech hedge and out of the ground.
Ayr’s professional also stroked four boundaries during a 90-ball stay at the crease but grew frustrated at the steady fall of wickets at the other end.
Conscious of the need to push the score along, Raza attempted to hit Gul for a six but succeeded only in picking out the fielder at long-off.
He was seventh out when he departed for 86 and the tail added just 17 more before Ayr were all out in the forty-sixth over.
Gul and Bradley took the bowling honours for Uddingston with 4-25 and 4-57 while McEwan’s catch at long on to dismiss the dangerous Heynrych Nel was memorable.
Elsewhere Clydesdale got their title push back on course, recovering from two defeats in a row with a seven-wicket success against winless West of Scotland at Titwood.
Dumfries, for whom Stuart Corbett-Byers fell one run short of a half-century in his side’s 216-9, proved too strong for East Kilbride.
Meanwhile a century from Harsha Cooray helped CS Eastern Premier leaders Aberdeenshire to victory over Heriot’s at Goldenacre.
But ‘Shire’s other overseas player Hayes van der Berg played just as important a role, claiming a wicket with the last ball of the match to seal a thrilling one-run win.
Having opted to bat, the visitors had useful contributions from several top order players after van der Berg and Callum Howard had put on 54 for the first wicket.
However, it was Sri Lankan Cooray who took the game by the scruff of the neck, coming in at the fall of the first wicket to remain unbeaten.
Cooray punished the home bowlers with a series of classy strikes and brought up three figures in the grand style, hoisting a huge six to finish on 102no in a total of 237-6.
Half-centuries from Steve Knox and Cammy Farrell kept Heriot’s on course but they fell agonisingly short.
Fraser Burnett and Hamish Bartlett scored centuries as Arbroath maintained their challenge with victory over Falkland while youngsters Chayank Gosain and Fraser Allardice shared seven wickets to help Carlton beat SMRH at Inverleith.