CLYDESDALE and holders Grange, the two teams that have dominated the Scottish Cup over the years, will contest this season’s final after two disappointingly one-sided semi-finals yesterday.
On paper at least Western Union premier outfit Clydesdale faced the stiffer test when they headed along the M8 to tackle first division high-flyers Ferguslie at Meikleriggs. The Titwood club had every right to make the short journey with a sense of trepidation given that the Paisley side had comfortably accounted for Eastern Premier division leaders Aberdeenshire in the previous round.
Clydesdale had also slipped up badly in their last Union outing, collapsing horribly to lose to Uddingston from a seemingly impregnable position. In their favour was an impressive record in knockout competitions which has already seen them lift the Murgitroyd Rowan Cup and book a place in the West League Cup final.
It was their cup form that Clydesdale took into yesterday’s match, with the contest over by 3pm – a few minutes ahead of the scheduled close of the first innings.
Sent in to bat, Ferguslie lost an early wicket but recovered when Keith Dabengwa and Michael English came together in a steadying second-wicket partnership.
The pair took the total beyond 50 before English, the Warriors and Scotland prospect, was the victim of what many observers considered a harsh lbw decision and was forced to depart for 11.
Dabengwa, the Zimbabwe international, looked to be fighting a lone battle, especially when Ferguslie at one stage lost six wickets for the addition of not a single run.
The collapse made for some impressive bowling figures in the Clydesdale ranks, with off-spinner Zeeshan Bashir claiming four wickets for only three runs in a lethal five-over spell.
The mayhem meant that Ferguslie, having looked on course for at least the respectability of a three-figure score, were dismissed for 71 with more than 16 overs of their allocation unused.
Clydesdale’s reply proved a little more fraught than visiting supporters would have liked.
De Lange looked in a hurry when he took nine runs, including a six, off the first over, but Sam Page, Majid Haq, Richie Berrington and Kasim Farid all fell in quick succession as home hopes were briefly raised.
Clydesdale were still 30 runs short when De Lange fell to home spinner Hamza Tahir for 27 and, given the way wickets had fallen earlier, an upset was not out of the question.
However, Mo Awais strode to the crease with a sense of purpose which was reflected in the way he proceeded to take the game away from the Paisley side.Awais hit a boundary and a six to get into his stride and followed up with the most audacious shot of the match – a switch hit off Tahir which soared out of the ground as Clydesdale completed a five-wicket success in just 13.4 overs.
It was a freer-scoring affair at Torrance House, but ultimately just as one-sided as East Kilbride’s first semi-final in the premier national knockout competition ended in a nine-wicket defeat.
Sent in to bat, the Western Union side fought all the way in the face of some tight Grange bowling, Harmanjit Singh giving them a steady start with 21 before wickets started to fall.
Scotland all-rounder Moneeb Iqbal top-scored for with 43 as the home side clawed their way to 173, but, despite the loss of an early wicket, the holders made light work of their task as George Munsey and skipper Neil McCallum launched the counter-attack.
Munsey at one stage hoisted Ross Lyons for four sixes in one over. He finished on 89no, with McCallum not far behind on 67, as Grange cruised over the finishing line.
Meanwhile, former Ayr professional Sikander Raza yesterday guided Zimbabwe to victory in an ODI clash against Afghanistan in Bulawayo. Raza, who helped Ayr to the top of the Western Union prior to his departure, hit 141 from only 133 balls.
He hit 11 fours and seven sixes before being out two runs before his side completed an eight-wicket triumph.
Carlton give hosts sinking feeling as rain takes its toll
The Granite City was spared the worst excesses of the elements but the outcome was not a happy one for the hosts, Stoneywood-Dyce, whose 40-run D/L defeat to Carlton saw them slip to second bottom in the table.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, the visitors had to wait while a heavy shower swept across the ground and they made an inauspicious start, slumping to 42 for four as Elton Willemse claimed three wickets, including those of internationalists Hamish Gardiner and Fraser Watts.
It was left to Fraser Boyd and Alex Rajendran to rescue the innings with a stand of 99 before Boyd offered a return catch to Michael Leask to depart for 40.
Rajendran went in identical fashion for his side’s top score of 56 as a second collapse saw Carlton lose their last six wickets for just 19 runs.
Henk Conradie joined Willemse in claiming three wickets and, having restricted their rivals to 160, Stoneywood-Dyce must have been confident of going on to secure victory.
Instead, both their openers, including dangerman Leask, were back in the pavilion with just ten runs on the board as Ali Evans demonstrated his prowess with the new ball.
Carlton continued to pick up wickets at regular intervals, with only Conradie’s battling 49 offering sustained resistance before the home side were all out for 123.
If the elements frustrated the remainder of Scotland’s cricketing fraternity, that was no more the case than for Forfarshire and their captain Craig Wallace.
For the second week in a row Saltires star Wallace carried his bat for an unbeaten century, this time amassing an extraordinary 176no to put his side in charge of their basement battle with SMRH at Forthill.
His hard-hitting effort, from just 133 deliveries, included 13 boundaries and six maximums, propelling ‘Shire’s total to 272 for three from their reduced allocation of 40 overs.
However, mist and rain enveloped the Broughty Ferry venue before the SMRH reply could get under way and the match was eventually declared that most unsatisfactory of outcomes: “No Result.”
It will be left to the statisticians and administrators to decide whether Wallace’s effort will take its place in the record books. If so, it will go down as the 11th highest individual tally since National League records began in 1998 and the third best by a Scot – bettered only by Bruce Patterson and Greig Williamson, who both had scores of 185. More frustrating still for Wallace was the fact that his side were denied the chance to go on and claim what would have been a crucial win in easing relegation worries – the only mild consolation being that they climbed one place thanks to Stoneywood-Dyce’s defeat.