Gary Heatly looks ahead to Sunday’s Challenge Cup final…
Morton and Hillhead both battled hard to win their Challenge Cup semi-finals last month – and they were rewarded with places in the final which is due to take place on Sunday at Drumpellier’s Langloan ground.
The ESCA Championship side will take on the men from the WDCU Second Division in the 40-overs-a-side contest with the victors taking silverware home.
Morton, from Edinburgh, defeated Linlithgow in a very tense semi-final on July 25.
Linlithgow, playing at home, made 199-8 from their 40 overs with Dhayalan Thangavel and skipper Senthil Nathan leading the way for Morton with two wickets apiece.
In reply, Morton fell to 140-8 before Vinod Kumar Roy and Nathan put on a 53-run partnership for the ninth wicket.
Nathan fell for 13 with the side still needing seven runs to win, but Roy keep his calm to finish on 44 not out while Thangavel also kept things together to finish on three not out as Morton reached 200-9 with two balls to spare.
“That was probably the best game of cricket we have played in all season,” Senthil Nathan said.
“It was a very competitive game played in the right spirit and Linlithgow are a good side who pushed us all the way.
“We were very happy when the last wicket pairing held on to win the game, but we did not celebrate too much because we then re-focused on the final.
“This year’s Challenge Cup run has been exciting for the club, we have played against a number of sides we don’t usually get a chance to play against and we have been up to Gordonians and down to Galloway, so it has been really fun.
“We know that Hillhead will be tough opponents, but it is a final and we want to win so the team are looking forward to Sunday.”
At the end of last month Morton won the Parks T20 Trophy and are also through to the finals day of the Braw Skelp where, ironically, they will play Linlithgow in the semi-finals again.
On the same day as Morton were winning at Linlithgow, Hillhead were also on the road to Strathmore.
Like the other semi-final, this one also went to the last over.
The home side posted 169-7 from their allotted overs batting first, Cameron Horn leading a disciplined Hillhead bowling attack with two wickets as all did a good job including Shehroz Mehmood, Ayub Khan, Jack Holland and skipper Ali Fergus.
In reply, Mehmood got things off to a great start with 45 runs at the top of the order before Ben Ward took up the mantle.
The number three batter made 63 before he was run out while Holland made 34.
In the end, Hasan Azhar and Horn were both on four not out as the Glasgow outfit reached 170 to win by six wickets with five balls remaining.
“We knew Strathmore would be a tough team on their own patch and even though we bowled well, we knew that it would be a tough run chase,” Ali Fergus explains.
“It proved to be just that, but guys stepped up at just the right times to get some vital runs and see us home.
“This is the first final of any kind that the club has reached since 2006, so it is a big moment for the club and I know all of the guys are looking forward to playing in such a big match.
“Any team that has got to this stage deserves to be here and Morton obviously play in the Championship in the East, so we know they will be a good side, but we know that we can compete at this level on our day for sure.”
Young Jared Bartlett has played in the Hillhead run to the final, but he sadly sustained an injury recently and will not be able to play at the weekend.
However, he will very much be part of the squad on game day and it is going to be fascinating to see two sides who clearly have battling qualities to take games deep going up against each other.
Vinod Kumar Roy is pictured by David Potter during his crucial semi-final innings for Morton while Hillhead are also pictured on the day of their last four match
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