Greenock still to get off the mark

Greenock 1st XI vs Prestwick
WDCU CSL Premier Division
Saturday 19th May 2018

Prestwick 274 F Jawad 64, T Fleet 64, S Chaudhary 50, S Rafiq 32; ND Flack 4 for 51
Greenock 190 S Bandekar 48, SS Prabhu 34, ML Smit 30; S Chaudhary 5 for 25


Greenock played their first home league game of the season on Saturday but the result was the same as the two previous away matches and the team remain marooned at the foot of the WDCU Premier Division.

Prestwick skipper, Shaz Rafiq, called correctly at the toss and chose to bat. Conditions were excellent for batting with a flat pitch and fast outfield and this seemed the right decision. Greenock were required to make two late changes with Sehmat Pandher and Ewan Stewart replacing the unavailable Chris Hempsey and Sammy Sanghera, Harry Briggs taking over the gloves from Hempsey.

Rafiq and his partner Fazal Jawad opened up against Saurabh Bandekar and Neil Flack and they soon had the scoreboard moving as they pounced on anything that was off line. After just 4 overs the total stood at 42 and skipper Flack had to make a change. Overseas amateur, Laurens Smit succeeded him and in the 8th over he made the initial breakthrough, bowling Rafiq for 32.

Greenock now began to exert some control over the batting and the Prestwick overseas amateur, Jacob Steber was run out without scoring after good work by Ewan Stewart. The scoring rate slackened somewhat for a while until Jawad loosened the shackles as 14 was taken off Jonathan Hempsey's 4th over.

Just after this, Greg McDougall struck by having Jawad well caught by Bandekar for 64 and not long after this he grabbed a second wicket as Prabhu took the catch to dismiss Patterson. Prestwick were now 133 for 4 in the 22nd over and the innings was in the balance.

Unfortunately for Greenock, that balance shifted towards Prestwick as Chaudhary and Fleet built what was to prove the match-winning partnership. Despite Flack rotating his bowling, they were unable to disturb the two Ayrshire batsmen and the score steadily mounted. The bowling was tidy but not threatening and too often there was one bad ball each over which the Prestwick duo put away with relish. The pair also ran well between the wickets.

Eventually Flack was able to make the separation with Chaudhary falling to a fine catch by Bandekar for an excellent 50 and the same combination accounted for Fleet, whose dismissal for 64 left Prestwick at 251 for 6 in the 46th over. Jonathan Hempsey returned to dismiss Rao for 20 and the innings ended with a couple of caught and bowled dismissals by Flack. Prestwick were all out in the last over for 274, an imposing total which would not easily be overtaken.

Flack was Greenock's most successful bowler with 4 for 51 and Greg McDougall took 2 for 52 and there were single wickets for Bandekar, Smit and Hempsey.

A good start was essential for Greenock's reply and openers Shailesh Prabhu and Harry Briggs provided just that. Prabhu did the bulk of the scoring as the pair brought up the 50 in the 14th over. While this was slower than the required run-rate, it was important that wickets were kept intact. Prabhu eventually fell for an excellent 34, out lbw to Chaudhary with the total on 67. Briggs was then calamitously run out for 19, as he and his partner Bandekar found themselves at the same end.

Greenock's two overseas players, Bandekar and Smit, now dug themselves in and started to build a profitable partnership. Both played some fine shots and after 29 overs, the total had reached 128 for 2. It was still a tall order to win but not impossible. But it was essential that these two stayed together and that was just what didn't happen as Bandekar was bowled by Rao just two short of what would have been a well-deserved half-century.

Prestwick now began to turn the screw. Flack did not stay long, caught for just 4 but Smit and Jonathan Hempsey took the score up to 168 for 4 in the 35th over. Greenock were still in the game, if only just, but Chaudhary now took over the game. Hempsey and Mountford were both dismissed leg before and when Smit fell in his next over for 30, the game was over. The tail did not wag although Pandher and Godsman managed to take the total up to 190 before Prestwick's Australian dismissed Godsman in the 41st over.

Prestwick's Sachin Chaudhary, with 5 for 25 in his 9 overs to go with his 50 runs, was the undoubted man of the match.

This was another disappointing result for Greenock and once again they failed to bat out their 50 overs. This is a recurring theme for Greenock and has been for several years and until this is remedied, winning matches will be difficult.

And yet, skipper Flack is not down-hearted and believes that his team is close to a win. He feels that if they can eradicate the little errors that they are making, then they can contend with anyone. Next Saturday's match at Titwood against Clydesdale would be a good place to start.

Before then, there are two midweek away matches to be played, against Ferguslie on Wednesday in the McCulloch Cup and against Ayr on the next night in the Rowan Cup.