Cricket: Afzal stars as Clydesdale open up title race

Majid Haq: Three wickets. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Majid Haq: Three wickets. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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WITH three wickets and an unbeaten half-century, Majid Haq would have been most peoples’ choice as man-of-the-match as Clydesdale blew the title race wide open with victory at Uddingston.

However, the Dale captain himself nominated fast bowler Mo Afzal as the player who did most to set up a comfortable eight-wicket win.

Haq had a fair point since Afzal claimed the wickets of Uddingston’s top three batsmen for just five runs between them as the home side slumped to 13-3 in a disastrous opening spell.

“That’s as good as Mo has bowled all season,” said Haq. “It was a real bonus to get their top order out so cheaply and it put us in control.”

Afzal launched his magical spell when he removed the in-form Amir Gul for just five, then clean bowled Sri Lankan professional Ras Priydarshana for a duck and had Saltires star Calum MacLeod caught behind, also without scoring.

Afzal retired from the attack to reflect on figures of 3-7 from six overs but his departure brought only temporary respite for Uddingston, whose final wicket fell with the total on 126.

Clydesdale’s reply suffered an early setback with the loss of Anjan Luthra and, when Shoaib Khan followed soon after, they were 17-2 and Uddingston’s tails were up. However, Haq and Safyaan Sharif led the visitors to the target with a half-century apiece, the skipper top-scoring with 59no including three boundaries and two maximums.

Meanwhile, Sharif showed his is really growing in stature as an opening batsman and his unbeaten 56 off 138 balls was an innings of great responsibility.

Haq added: “The win makes it interesting at the top and puts us in with a chance but Uddingston still have the advantage.”

While Clydesdale trail by ten points, West of Scotland are a further five points adrift and still in with an outside chance after sending Stirling back to the bottom of the table with n eight-wicket win at New Williamfield.

Young pace bowler Gavin Smith was the West hero with six wickets as Stirling were bundled out for just 129 before Dylan Pinkstone’s unbeaten 70 secured the visitors’ victory.

Elliot Speirs and Neil Smith both scored half-centuries as Ayr overhauled Renfrew’s 194-7 with seven wickets and almost ten overs to spare at King George V Playing Fields.

Dumfries battled to reach 177 against Drumpellier at Langloan, before Alan Davidson and Chris McCutcheon claimed four wickets apiece as the outgoing champions leapfrogged their hosts into fourth place.