uddingston retain cup

PAUL Hoffmann inspired Uddingston to a second consecutive Scottish Cup triumph with victory over Dunfermline Knights at Lochlands, Arbroath, yesterday.

The former Saltires bowler claimed 3-18 as the Lanarkshire club carved out a seven-wicket win to claim the trophy for a third time and leave the Knights searching for a first elusive title.

Hoffmann’s haul helped dismiss Dunfermline for just 151 before an unbroken stand of 99 between Alecz Day and Calum MacLeod saw Uddingston race to their target with more than 18 overs to spare.

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Chasing a moderate victory target of 152, the holders made a steady enough start through Bryan Clarke and Aamir Gul.

However, the introduction of Cammy Farrell, who had earlier top-scored for the Knights, brought immediate reward when Clarke was caught behind.

Uddingston survived a huge scare when Gul was bowled by Safyaan Sharif, only to be reprieved by the umpire’s signal for no-ball.

However, Dunfermline maintained the pressure and claimed another significant breakthrough when Ras Priyadarshana was bowled off the next delivery. Gul was then adjudged lbw to Smidt, as Uddingston were reduced to 53-3.

Day and MacLeod then produced a perfectly paced partnership that settled the issue. Aussie amateur Day led the way with a hard-hitting knock of 58 while MacLeod, the former Warwickshire player, showed all his experience in a composed 35, picking the gaps superbly.

Earlier Knights skipper Gowtham Rai raised a few eyebrows around the ground when he elected to bat after winning the toss. Given the rain which has fallen in Angus during recent weeks and the consequent moisture in the wicket, this appeared to be playing into the hands of Uddingston and their powerful new-ball attack.

So it proved with Ricky Bawa and Hoffmann causing all sorts of problems for the Dunfermline batsmen. Indeed, skipper Bawa made the breakthrough in the second over when he bowled his opposite number for two.

Knights player-coach Kevin McLaren responded with a mini-counter-attack, driving Hoffmann confidently through extra cover for four and claiming another boundary by lifting Bawa over mid-off. Wynand Schmitt survived a scare when he was dropped by Clarke off Hoffmann’s bowling. However, the wicket-keeper atoned by holding on to a much more difficult chance to remove Schmitt and give Hoffmann his first wicket.

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McLaren continued to offer stout resistance until, having reached 22, he was adjudged lbw to Hoffmann. The Knights man walked off in clear disappointment, perhaps feeling that the ball had pitched outside leg stump.

Hoffmann completed his three-wicket burst by bowling the dangerous Smidt and, at 41-4, Dunfermline’s cup bid was in danger of petering out with a whimper.

Their position declined further when Priyadarshana, Uddingston’s Sri Lankan professional, claimed two wickets in as many balls, Aamir Shahzad and Vasu Reddy both offering regulation catches to Clarke.

An early finish looked a distinct possibility especially when Saltires star Safyaan Sharif popped-up a simple catch to Day at mid-wicket off Scott McKenzie.

However, 76-7 proved to be the nadir for the Knights as Farrell, with sterling support from the tail, launched a recovery which rekindled his side’s hopes and saved the showpiece occasion as a spectacle. The Australian, signed from Heriot’s last winter, proved his worth with a dogged knock, ending by pulling David Bill’s full-toss to wide long-on.

Siva Jayanthan helped Farrell add 52 for the eighth wicket before Bawa returned to the attack to shatter his stumps. Farrell’s resistance was finally brought to an end by a straight delivery from Priyadarshana while Ben Wilkinson was last man out following a breezy 16.

The youngster was lured out of his crease by MacLeod’s slower ball and Clarke completed an eventful afternoon behind the stumps when he clipped off the bails.

Dunfermline’s total was much more substantial than had looked likely, particularly when Hoffmann was busy at work. However, 151 was unlikely to be sufficient – and so it proved.