Clydesdale keep their nerve and take the Scottish Western Premier Division title

In an pulsating finale to the Western Premier Division campaign Clydesdale held on to claim the championship at Meikleriggs on Saturday, twice coming back from seemingly hopeless situations to beat Ferguslie by one wicket with two balls to spare.

For much of the day things seemed to have been going Ferguslie’s way, after Riyaad Henry won the toss, elected to bat, and then shared a second-wicket partnership of 140 with Omar Hussain (61).

Sensationally, the dismissal of Hussain by Arun Krishna was the first of a hat-trick, and suddenly Clydesdale were back in the game with Ferguslie at 151 for four.

Henry went on to complete a fine hundred, but his departure, bowled by Zeeshan Bashir for 118, triggered a late collapse, Bashir taking five for 49, and Ferguslie were all out for 248.

The Clydesdale reply got off to a dreadful start as they found themselves on 9 for three inside the initial powerplay, Henry claiming the first wicket and Mohammad Ghaffar the other two, but Fazal Jawad (48) led a recovery in company with Danny Cairns.

Even so, Clydesdale’s prospects looked bleak when both had departed with the score on 82: 167 were still needed with only five wickets in hand and 27 overs remaining.

Enter Imran Mughal, and he set about reducing the deficit, first in company with Kasim Farid and then with Bashir. By the time Mughal was caught for a splendid 74 (inevitably, perhaps, a third catch for Henry) off the bowling of Hamid Mahmood only 57 were still required from eight overs.

Bashir and Krishna, Clydesale’s heroes with the ball, proved equally valuable with the bat, but in the penultimate over, with nine needed, Ghaffar bowled Bashir for 34; Calum Drummond joined Krishna with four required.

Then the Ferguslie captain ran Krishna out so that two were needed as he prepared to bowl the last over; Ibrahim Faisal and Drummond held their nerve, however, and the winning run came with two deliveries remaining.

It had been an epic struggle, altogether worthy of a championship final, and Clydesdale, who had led the race from gun to tape, recovered brilliantly as they seemed to have stumbled in the closing strides, and emerged as worthy winners.

By comparison with such a denouement everything else was bound to be anti-climatic, but Prestwick made sure of third place by beating Dumfries by four wickets at the Henry Thow Oval, Majid Haq taking four for 9 as the visitors were dismissed for 98, while 2019 champions Uddingston finished fourth.

They could thank a fifth-wicket stand between Aamir Gul (50) and Niall Alexander (43) for their total of 166 at Hamilton Crescent, but it was Abdul Sabri’s six for 22, supported by three for 27 from Alexander, which skittled West of Scotland for just 53.

More significantly, perhaps, Langside ensured that Poloc would be playing First Division cricket in Scotland next season by beating them by 88 runs at Shawholm.

Poloc will be replaced by Kelburne, whose 138-run victory over Drumpellier on Saturday kept them just ahead of East Kilbride, who beat Kilmarnock by four wickets.

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