Dale fall at final hurdle

editorial image

Clydesdale started this final game neck-and-neck on points and percentage with Western Premier league title rivals Uddingston, after nine wins from 11 games.

Only net run-rate separated them, and it was possible for Majid Haq’s team to overcome this deficit by scoring quickly against West of Scotland at Titwood.

But the captain lost the toss, and his top-order batsmen felt obliged to set off as if it required a Twenty20 slog.

Unfortunately, a pitch that proved difficult for batting laid waste to this approach, and early wickets tumbled.

When four wickets had fallen for less than 50 runs in the first 20 overs, the shutters went up, and Clydesdale struggled to control the remainder of their innings.

Only one batsman exceeded 30, former captain Zeeshan Bashir showing that it was possible to be watchful while still keeping the scoreboard turning.

But he succumbed to a bowler’s sucker punch, and the home team slumped to 115 for nine wickets with ten overs still remaining.

A final-wicket partnership of 30 between fast bowler Mo Afzal and teenage wicket-keeper Ahmad Chaudhry proved to be psychologically important.

Haq’s opened the bowling, understanding that West’s top-order batsmen were likely to be more comfortable with fast bowling.

After ten overs, one of the batsmen had yet to score a run, and give-away wides accounted for the majority of the scoreboard total.

Haq used Afzal as a fast-paced counterpoint to his own off-spin, then turned to three other spinners to complete an astonishing victory as West’s batsmen failed to cope with this unusual bowling attack, supported by sharp fielding.

The most successful of the bowlers was man of the match Zeeshan Bashir, with a haul of 3-32.

West were all out for 107 in their 50th over, giving Clydesdale a 38-run victory in a low-scoring game.

Celebrations were muted as news came through that Uddingston had also won their final match, and maintained their run-rate advantage to win the league trophy by the narrowest of margins.

A quirk of the selection rules allowed Bashir also to play in the final of the Western Cup against Kilmarnock at Titwood on Sunday.

Kilmarnock were reduced to 152 for the loss of eight wickets by the time they ran out of overs, to give the Clydesdale boys a thrilling 10-run victory, meaning every single team in at the Titwood club have this year won at least one trophy.