CENTURY star Safyaan Sharif has tipped top-flight newcomers Falkland to be in the mix for honours when the Eastern Premiership pecking order is decided in August.
The Scotland all-rounder warmed up for Friday’s ODI against England in perfect fashion, producing his best-ever innings to propel the villagers to a shock triumph over champions Arbroath.
For Sharif, who also underlined his bowling talents, it was also the ideal way to mark his return to Fife following a spell in the west with Clydesdale.
The former Largo and Dunfermline teenage ace looked back on his unbeaten 132 at Scroggie Park and said: “I think it was the best knock of my career when you put it in context.
“We had lost some early wickets and so we had to lay fresh foundations. I am delighted to be back in my home county – and it feels good to be representing a local club again.”
Despite his amazing performance Sharif stressed Falkland will not be a one-man act during the campaign, adding: “Falkland are a very talented team – and if we keep doing what we are doing at the moment then I am absolutely sure we can finish high in the table.”
After two fixtures, Shariff and Co sit proudly at the pinnacle of the league, just ahead on net run rate of Heriot’s, the only other side with a 100 per cent record.
Three quick strikes by Matthew Hurst had put Falkland in bother at 12 for three – but Sharif not only arrested the rout, he dominated the Arbroath attack to the extent that the next highest scorer was Conor Ryan with 28. His effort guided them to a total of 218 for eight, which was to prove too lofty a target for the Lochlands bunch.
They also suffered early trauma with the loss in quick succession of Ross McLean and Hamish Bartlett. On 143 for five, Arbroath must have still fancied their chances. However, the lbw verdict against Calvin Burnett sparked the telling collapse and they were shot out for 179.
There was also a fine showing from Forfarshire, who were inspired by a half-century from Craig Wallace as they outgunned Watsonians at Broughty Ferry. Dewald Nel (72) was the mainstay of the Watsons innings with a maiden half-ton, Liam Gough took four for 24
For Shire, Matty Parker with 49 and Umair Mohammed (36no) offered stout support to Wallace in the face of fine bowling by Ewan Chalmers, who snapped up five for 34 in vain.
Like Falkland, Heriot’s have quickly emerged as dark horses and they underlined their potential by edging out Aberdeenshire at Mannofield.
A target of 175 should have been within the grasp of the Granite City outfit, however they were unable to mount partnerships of sufficient bulk and fell short by four.
Grange survived a series of scares to kick-start their campaign with a gritty victory over Stoneywood-Dyce.
It was clear from the start that runs would be at a premium in the moist early-season conditions at Raeburn Place. And even when the Aberdonians were skittled for just 82, it was never going to be easy for the hosts.
They eventually crawled over the finishing line with only three wickets in hand, however in the circumstances they will be heartened with any kind of win following their opening day defeat by champions Arbroath.
Carlton had to dig deep to halt the charge of capital rivals SMRH at Grange Loan.
It was a scrappy match, featuring a spate of spilled catches and fluctuating fortunes.
Carlton had recovered from a shaky start to reach 209 for nine – thanks mainly to the application and awareness of Preston Mommsen and Alex Rajendran.
Mommsen steadied the ship with 50 after they had been toiling on 23 for two – then Rajendran was run out when just five short of his half century.
The SMRH chase wobbled in the sixth over as Martin Speirs was trapped lbw to Cheeky Gossain with the tally on ten. And teenage spinner Gossain kept up the good work to help rip apart the SMRH middle order.
The Inverleith outfit needed 13 off the last over, but the home nerves held firm. It was an over that was to feature one frantic delivery, from which a catch was dropped, a single was scored before a run out as the batsmen tried for a second run.
Then came a dot ball, with Drummond grabbing the decisive wicket with the next.