Back in action

Mo Afzal
Mo Afzal

After five weeks of persistent rain, most - but not all - club cricketers in the west were able to stir themselves into action once again at the weekend.

But the home games for the top teams at both NVT Poloc and Weirs were left on the sidelines once again as their grounds were still waterlogged from the swollen rivers around their boundaries.

Saturday was an important cup day for PSL Team Sports Clydesdale, and their group-deciding game against the visitors from Arbroath was key to a quarter-final place in the Scottish Cup.

Titwood groundsman Cyril McLatchie had been working even more overtime to clear the water off his patch, and was rewarded by watching a convincing 66-run victory on what was still a dampish pitch.

Home captain Zeeshan Bashir and Scotland international Safyaan Sharif, returning from injury, dominated Clydesdale’s batting with 44 runs each. But some spectators doubted whether the final total of 195 would be sufficient.

Their concerns were put to the sword by a splendid performance in the field, led by an impressive bowling display by all-rounder Sharif.

Left-arm spinner Mo Ali picked up three cheap wickets, and quixotic quick bowler Mo Afzal completed fine figures of 4-40 to demolish the Arbroath tail.

The all-important result gives Clydesdale their best chance of progressing to glory in the final with a run of four consecutive home games in prospect.

The quarter-final against fancied Carlton will be played at Titwood this Sunday, weather permitting, and a home win would give Bashir’s boys a semi-final at home.

And since the final of this national club competition is also pre-booked for Titwood on September 2, there is a clear incentive for the Clydesdale crew to pull out all the stops to win a trophy which they haven’t seen in their clubhouse for 24 years.

Meanwhile two southside second teams were also in the hunt for a last-eight spot in the revamped and expanded Western Cup.

The Poloc reserves were away to leaders Dumfries seeking a second victory in the final match of the group stage for a chance to progress into the knockout stages. But they returned disappointed after losing by 84 runs.

Clydesdale’s Titwood team had a much better chance of going through but, although they won their low-scoring game against Kelburne’s second team by 15 runs, they found themselves tied on points with Hillhead for the runners-up position behind Dumfries. And, after overall net run-rates had been calculated, it was Hillhead who progressed.

Last week’s one-day international between Scotland and Canada at Ayr was also a personal triumph for Clydesdale’s enigmatic all-rounder Majid Haq. His distinctive off-spin tied Canada’s batsmen in knots, finishing with figures of 2-19 as Scotland swept to an easy victory.