Andy Tennant, the Western Warriors coach, believes his side are still in with a chance of retaining their T20 Blitz title after coming out on top in their must-win clash with Caley Highlanders.
Friday’s double header at Forthill saw the Eastern Knights move to the brink of winning back the crown thanks to their comfortable victory over the Highlanders.
That meant Tennant’s men simply had to come out on top in the day’s second match and they duly obliged with a grafting three-wicket success.
It means in the closing round of matches the Warriors must beat the Knights while hoping Caley do them a favour by doing likewise.
Net run-rate is also hugely in the Knights’ favour but Tennant said: “We are still alive in the competition and we go to Grange in early September still with a chance of winning it.
“That was our aim today so it’s very pleasing.”
Having opted to bat first, the Highlanders produced a rather tepid display with none of their players able to dominate the bowling to provide a major innings.
The tone was set early when Brandon McMullen dismissed dangermen Safyaan Sharif and Michael Leask – both for ducks – in the first over.
McMullen went on to claim three wickets, a feat matched by the impressive Ross Lyons who claimed the other key wicket when he had home skipper Craig Wallace stumped by Matthew Cross for 26.
The Highlanders were eventually all out for 116, with an over unused, before bowlers remained on top during the Warriors’ reply.
When the visitors slumped to 23-3 inside five overs with the in-form Michael English and Richie Berrington among those dismissed, it was clear that the Warriors had a fight on their hands.
However, Craig Young rose to the challenge with a battling unbeaten 44 to carry his side to victory in the final over.
The Poloc batsman, making his first representative appearance of the season, faced 40 deliveries and had important support from debutant Tom Bradburn and Lyons.
Tennant added: “On the whole we were pleased with our performance – bowling out the opposition for 116 in a T20 match is always pleasing.
“Brandon McMullen bowled really well up front which gave us a good start to have them three wickets down in the powerplay and then we managed to apply consistent pressure pretty much throughout the innings.
“It was a wearing pitch in fairness and so although 116 should have been an easy total to chase, it could also potentially prove quite tricky and so unfortunately it proved.
“But from 23-3 when we looked in a bit of trouble there was a really good repair job from Tom Bradburn who was making his debut and Craig Young who went on and anchored the innings with a lovely 44 not out to bring us home.
“All-in-all we’re delighted – it’s a little bit of an ugly win but we’ll take it.”
Earlier Mark Watt was the star of the Knights’ 38-run win over Caley, the Scotland all-rounder top-scoring with a hard-hitting 44no before claiming three wickets.
After electing to bat, the Edinburgh-based region were given their customary fast start with George Munsey again in belligerent mood.
Munsey had good support from Michael Castle, opening in place of the unavailable Mike Carson, the pair putting on 31 before Adrian Neill struck to remove Castle for 16 in the fourth over, the tall pace bowler’s extra bounce producing the error.
Hayes van der Berg was dismissed cheaply by Leask while Munsey was unable to convert a promising start, the left-hander miscuing Neill to Ben Wilkinson and departing for 34.
Dylan Budge and Preston Mommsen kept the board ticking at a healthy rate before Watt arrived to add the finishing touches with some powerful hitting including three maximums as the Knights accelerated to 173-5.
The Highlanders suffered an early setback when Rory Johnston lost his middle stump to Ali Evans in the first over while Leask followed soon after.
Hopes of a successful run-chase appeared to rest with Sharif and Wallace who produced a breezy stand before the latter was bowled by van der Berg.
And when Sharif, having struck several lusty blows, holed out to Evans off Watt, the writing was on the wall.
Watt went on to claim a further two wickets as the required rate continued to rise, the home side closing on 135-9.
Man-of-the-match Watt said: “It was a good performance from us – the boys showed real intent and ran hard throughout the match.
“For me it was nice to get a few runs out in the middle.”
The competition concludes on September 2 at Raeburn Place when the Knights can clinch the title in their opening match before facing the Warriors in the final game.