The only Scottish team in the 2017 Last Man Stands World Championships got off to a winning start in Cape Town on Saturday.
In a thrilling opening game, Fulton’s Flyers, whose players are drawn from the ranks of Clydesdale Cricket Club in Glasgow, defeated the team from local township Langa with just one ball to spare.
With a gale force wind streaming overhead, and Table Mountain closed to visitors all day, Flyers skipper Paddy Barbour won the toss and elected boldly to field first, backing his young team to be the better bowlers and fielders.
Langa, boosted by the inclusion of local hero and former internationalist Charl Langaveld, enjoyed a good start as Barbour quickly ran through his bowling options one captured at a time.
His fifth choice was Andrew Scobie, whose third ball trapped Kenny Fani in front. This gave the Flyers the encouragement they needed in their first game since August and wickets then fell at regular intervals as the bowlers quickly found their form.
Team doctor Arun Krishna and Mafeking-born Calum Drummond were also among the Scots wicket takers as Langa progressed to 136 in their 20 five-ball overs.
In reply, the Flyers started confidently despite losing their skipper, clean bowled in the second over. Two qualified accountants from Scotland then dominated the batting as Sheryar Awan and Andrew Scobie carried their personal tally to 47 and 51 retired respectively, both clearing the boundary once.
But with overs running out, Arun Krishna out second ball and the Scots run rate sagging worryingly below the required run rate, it needed a heroic entrant to the field of play.
That man was the team ‘veteran’, 31-year-old Kasim Farid, who calmly struck a six and two fours off the seven balls he faced to take the Flyers into the final over, requiring eight off the five balls for victory.
The man at the other end was Billy Pirzada. Each batsman scored a single at the star of the over. And, with six required off the final three balls, it was Pirzada who relieved the palpable tension, raising the third ball high over the straight downwind boundary to seal the reigning Scottish champions’ first victory in this competition.
Barbour’s men now face the Tech Republic from Bangladesh who had earlier served up a shock defeat over the Australian top seeds in Group E in the next round of games on Monday.
To go through to the Championships Last 16 knockout stage, Fulton’s Flyers need one more victory from their two remaining pool matches. But they’d achieved the start they wanted with panache.