Greenock battle hard but to no avail against Prestwick

Prestwick vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL Premier Division
Saturday 12th August 2017

Prestwick 242 for 7 F MacDonald 71, T Fleet 56, F Jawad 45
Greenock 1st XI 193 JPC Hempsey 56, LPJ Ware 39; MT Rao 5 for 24


League leaders Prestwick proved too strong for Greenock on Saturday afternoon at the Henry Thow Oval and so, with just two matches still to be played, the Glenpark side remain locked in a battle with East Kilbride to avoid relegation.

Having opted to bat first, the Ayrshire side lost opening batsman Shahzad Rafiq in just the fourth over of the match when he edged a ball from Louis Ware and was caught behind by Chris Hempsey.

The second wicket partnership between Fazal Jawad and Fraser Macdonald added runs steadily but, by the thirteenth over, with Jawad in particular looking very comfortable and set for a large innings, Greenock gained a second breakthrough when he was caught and bowled by Neil Flack for 45 runs.

That brought Sachin Chaudhary out to join Macdonald with the score on 64 for 2. Chaudhary had been identified by the Glenpark side as the real danger man in the Prestwick team. Fresh from a magnificent match winning century at Ayr and also 81 against Poloc in his last two innings, the Indian former Irvine professional lasted only four balls being given out LBW to Flack without scoring.

With two significant setbacks, Prestwick bedded in over the next nine overs adding only eleven runs as Greenock sought to gain a further wicket. Macdonald and new batsman Ross Patterson 'weathered the storm' and gradually got on top of the Greenock bowling. But having added sixty runs in twenty overs the partnership was broken when Patterson was run out for 26 by a piece of sharp fielding by Neil Flack. 124 for 4 after 33 overs.

The strength and resolve of the Prestwick batting line-up, which has taken the side to the top of the table, was then amply demonstrated by a fine fifth wicket century partnership from Macdonald and Tom Fleet.

With both batsmen having scored their respective half centuries, they were in complete control and had taken the total well past two hundred, and were aiming for an innings total of two hundred and fifty when Fleet was run out for a very fine 56 runs. The score at his dismissal was 225 for 5 in the 48th over.

As so often happens when a big partnership is broken, further quick wickets occur and with just one more run added Macdonald became the third Prestwick player to be run out when Kyle Scrimegour was too quick in the field and he was gone for an excellent innings of 71 for his side.

Greenock were not finished there, as two further wickets were won in the last two overs of the innings as Prestwick sought to get to 250. In that aim they failed, reaching 242 at the close. Mitchell Rao (5) became batsman number four to be run out and Liam Smith (5) was caught by Neil Flack from the last ball of the innings.

Neil Flack emerged as Greenock's top bowler with 2 wickets for 39 runs from his ten overs.

Needing to score 243 runs to win at an average of approximately five runs per over Greenock set about their reply in fine fashion. Openers Shailesh Prabhu and Harry Briggs set a sound platform at the start of the innings and their partnership had reached 48 in the 'unlucky' thirteenth over when Prabhu (19) was surprised to be given out caught behind from just the second ball of change bowler Mitchell Rao's first over.

Just three balls later and there was no doubt when wicketkeeper Macdonald took his second catch in the over to dismiss Greenock's Australian overseas amateur Kyle Scrimegour without scoring.

For a period thereafter Greenock just could not find a partnership to settle the innings and wickets fell regularly. Briggs was bowled by Chaudhary for 24 and he was joined back in the pavilion by Neil Flack (8), Chris Hempsey (5) and Aidan Forrest (3) as the Glenpark side slumped to 85 for 6 in the 31st over.

But Greenock were not giving up without a fight, and, with precious points at stake, team captain Jonathan Hempsey and Louis Ware gained the team some credibility with an excellent seventy three run seventh wicket partnership which took the team's score to 158 in the 43rd over. Ware then became Mitchell Rao's fifth victim of the afternoon when he was caught by Chaudhary for 39.

Jonathan Hempsey continued to strike the ball well and gained his half century before finally falling to a catch by Rafiq from the bowling of Willie Rowan in the 46th over. He had scored 56 and the score had moved along to 181, almost one hundred runs on from when he had joined Louis Ware when the innings had been crumbling earlier in the afternoon.

The end of the Greenock innings did come twelve runs further on when Sam Sanghera was bowled by Gavin Pitt in the 49th over to give Prestwick a well deserved win and which retained their position at the top of the Premier Division with just two matches of the season remaining.

Mitchell Rao returned the impressive bowling figures of 5 wickets for just 24 runs from his 10 overs while pre-match danger man Sachin Chaudhary also had a fine spell of 10 overs taking 1 wicket for 17 runs.

Greenock's position in the table was maintained when second bottom side East Kilbride's match with Poloc was cancelled due to some late morning rain which the umpires judged made their ground unplayable. This means East Kilbride have managed to complete only 8 out of this season's 16 matches to date due to weather issues.