Greenock aiming for fourth win on the bounce
Having won three Premier Division league matches on the bounce, including beating third placed West of Scotland last Saturday at Glenpark, Greenock make the journey down the Clyde coast this weekend to play second placed Prestwick with confidence riding high.
The recent winning results have been nothing less than the team has deserved after competing well in each match in the first half of the league programme, yet failing to win one. Now comfortably clear of the bottom two relegation places, the Greenock team will be seeking to rise even further up the league table.
Last Saturday's win against West was a real team effort. However, if one player should be highlighted from the team's performance, then the Club's professional Saurabh Bandekar would be the one. He played a match-winning innings scoring an unbeaten 104, including a boundary off the second last ball of the match which took the Greenock total past the 200 runs posted by West.
The century was Bandekar's first for Greenock and having got that 'milestone' completed, both he and the Club's supporters will be looking forward for more to come.
Saturday's opponents, Prestwick, have been riding high in the Premier Division for the past few seasons and were Champions in 2017. This season, the Ayrshire side has won seven matches out of eight played with the only loss coming against Premier Division league leaders Uddingston in mid June.
That match was a high scoring encounter which was worthy of the top two teams in the league. Prestwick batted first and scored 253 for the loss of 9 wickets but Uddingston proved too strong and scored 257 for the loss of 8 wickets.
Prestwick have shown in the Premier Division matches to date that they have a team which is not simply dependent on one player, but that there are a number of players who have regularly contributed strongly to their success. Fazal Jawad, Australian overseas amateur Tom Lord, former Irvine CC professional Sachin Chaudhary, Tom leet, Fraser Macdonald and Craig Morrison are the main group of players around whom the side has gained its winning performances.
The Ayrshire team has regularly scored well, with a number of innings in excess of 200 runs and on one occasion, just two weeks ago against Poloc, scored 319 for the loss of just 5 wickets. So Greenock will need to bowl and field well to limit their high scoring when the teams meet this weekend.
Jawad, is their most consistent and highest scoring batsman with a total 384 runs, which is second only to Greenock's pro Saurabh Bandekar (520 runs) at the top of the Premier Division run-scoring chart. Two other Prestwick players also feature in the top ten, Fraser Macdonald (306) and Tom Fleet (240), indicating a strength in their batting line-up.
And the Ayrshire team's bowling attack is a strong one too with Craig Morrison, Sachin Chaudhary, Tom Lord and Fraser Macdonald all having accumulated a significant number of wickets individually for this stage in the league programme. Chaudhary is the number one wicket-taker to date in the Premier Division with 27 wickets to his credit which is just one ahead of Greenock's Saurabh Bandekar.
Greenock's batsmen will be aware of their opponent's bowling abilities, having played against them many times over recent seasons. They will undoubtedly show them respect, but at the same time look to come out on top and score well at the Henry Thow Oval, which is a ground where large totals are not uncommon.
Greenock will be travelling down the coast with confidence on Saturday after their three consecutive league wins, but they will be doing so without Neil Flack who has damaged knee ligaments, and Jack Griffiths who is unavailable. Flack's omission, in particular, will be a serious blow to the Glenpark side, as not only is he a key batsman for the team but he is also an important bowler.
But like Prestwick, Greenock have a number of players who have the abilities to deliver strong performances. Of course, Indian pro Bandekar is a particularly key man in the team, but others too have weighed in with useful performances in this season's Premier Division fixtures.
Experienced batsman Shailesh Prabhu is available once again this weekend and he will likely open the Greenock innings along with Australian amateur Zac Barranechea who may well find the Prestwick wicket to his liking on Saturday, while Rod Mountford, Chris and Jonathan Hempsey and Sehmat Pandher are some of the others who have the potential to score significant runs.
In the Greenock attack, Jonathan Hempsey will likely take the new ball and open the bowling along with Bandekar. Sean Fischer-Keogh, Chirag Pandher and Sam Sanghera will be among Greenock's back up bowlers who will be likely to play an important part in the proceedings.
Prestwick will not take lightly Greenock's visit to the Henry Thow Oval, as they will aware of the team's improved form over the last three weekends, and also any slip ups will be likely to seriously affect their Premier Division title aspirations.
With Greenock keen to make another move up the Premier Division league table and into an even safer position clear of relegation trouble, and Prestwick vying with Uddingston for the top spot, Saturday's match is an important one for both teams.
Greenock's team for the match, which will start at 12 noon, shows two changes from last weekend's winning eleven with Shailesh Prabhu and Ewan Stewart replacing Neil Flack and Jack Griffiths.
The Glenpark XI are at home on Saturday to Kirkstyle (Kilmarnock's 2nd XI) and like their big brothers will be looking to make it four league wins in a row. The team selection for the game will be made from a squad of sixteen which should ensure that a strong outfit takes the field. This match will start at 1pm.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.