Grange and Clydesdale reach the Scottish Cup Final
Clydesdale and holders Grange, the two teams that have dominated the Scottish Cup over the years, will contest this season’s final after two disappointingly one-sided semi-final encounters yesterday.
On paper at least Western Union premier outfit Clydesdale faced the stiffer test when they headed along the M8 to tackle first division high-flyers Ferguslie at Meikleriggs.
The Titwood club had every right to make the short journey with a sense of trepidation given that the Paisley side had comfortably accounted for Eastern Premier division leaders Aberdeenshire in the previous round.
Dale had also slipped up badly in their last Union outing, collapsing horribly to lose to Uddingston from a seemingly impregnable position.
In their favour was an impressive record in knockout competitions which has already seen then lift the Murgitroyd Rowan Cup while they also have a West League Cup final to look forward to.
Happily for the favourites it was their cup form which they took into yesterday’s meeting to see off their rivals without undue alarm.
Indeed, the contest, such as it was, had reached its conclusion by 3pm – a few minutes ahead of the scheduled close of the first innings!
Sent in to bat, Ferguslie lost an early wicket but recovered when Keith Dabengwa and Michael English came together in a steadying second wicket partnership.
There were no great risks as the pair took the total beyond the 50-mark before English, the Warriors and Scotland prospect, was the victim of what many observers considered a harsh lbw decision and was forced to depart for 11.
Increasingly Dabengwa, the Zimbabwe international, looked to be fighting a lone battle especially when Ferguslie at one stage lost six wickets for the addition of not a single run.
The collapse made for some impressive bowling figures in the Clydesdale ranks with Zeeshan Bashir, the highly talented off-spinner, claiming four wickets for just three runs in a lethal five-over spell.
Bashir’s victims included Dabengwa, caught by Con de Lange, for his side’s top score of 32.
Mohammed Ali, Bashir’s left-arm spin partner, was almost as impressive in claiming four scalps and conceding eight runs in his 4.4 overs.
The mayhem meant that Ferguslie, having looked on course for at least the respectability of a three-figure score, were dismissed for a miserable 71with more than sixteen overs of their allocation unused.
Clydesdale’s reply, which should have been a merry jaunt, proved a little more fraught than visiting supporters would have liked.
De Lange, returning to the club where he had a successful stint as professional, looked in a hurry when he took nine runs, including a six off the first over.
However, Sam Page, Majid Haq, Richie Berrington and Kasim Farid all fell in quick succession as home hopes were briefly raised.
Clydesdale were still thirty runs short of their target when De Lange fell to home spinner Hamza Tahir for 27 and, given the way wickets had fallen earlier, an upset was not out of the question.
However, Mo Awais strode to the crease with a sense of purpose which was reflected in the way he proceeded to take the game away from the Paisley side.
Awais hit a boundary and a six to get into his stride and followed-up with the most audacious shot of the match – a switch hit off Tahir which also soared out of the ground as Clydesdale completed a five-wicket success in just 13.4 overs.
With the exception of Awais’ late hitting, it may not have been the spectacle many had hoped to witness but Colin Mitchell, Clydesdale’s chairman of cricket, said: “The important thing at the semi-final stage is to get through.
“To be honest, it was a pretty ugly match and both sides will feel they could have offered more but we’re just pleased to have won ugly.”
It was a freer scoring affair at Torrance House but ultimately just as one-sided as East Kilbride’s first-ever semi-final in the premier national knockout competition ended in a nine-wicket defeat.
Sent in to bat, the Western Union side fought all the way in the face of some tight Grange bowling, Harmanjit Singh giving them a steady start with 21 before wickets started to fall.
Scotland all-rounder Moneeb Iqbal eventually top-scored for with 43 as the home side clawed their way to 173.
However, despite the loss of an early wicket, the holders made light work of their task as George Munsey and skipper Neil McCallum launched the counter-attack.
Munsey was particularly brutal, at one stage hoisting Ross Lyons for four sixes in one over.
The Scotland A batsman finished on 89no while McCallum was not far behind on 67 as Grange cruised over the finishing line.
MEANWHILE, former Ayr professional Sikander Raza yesterday blasted Zimbabwe to victory in an ODI clash against Afghanistan in Bulawayo.
Raza, who guided Ayr to the top of the Western Union prior to his departure a fortnight ago, hit 141 from only 133 balls.
He stroked eleven fours and hammered seven maximums before being out two runs before his side completed an easy eight-wicket triumph.