Greenock defeat Renfrew in hard-fought struggle to remain second

Greenock 1st XI vs Renfrew
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 13th August 2022

Greenock 1st XI 226 for 6 RA Walker 104*, TJ Nicholson 79; H Sharma 4 for 22
Renfrew 187 I Hussain 56, F Khan 47; RA Walker 4 for 36


Greenock maintained their second top spot in the WDCU First Division thanks to a hard fought win over Renfrew at Glenpark on Saturday.

With just two weeks of the league season remaining, the competition for the two promotion places to the Premier Division remains on a knife-edge.

League leaders Stenhousemuir and third placed Kilmarnock both had big wins at the weekend. Stenhousemuir's win puts them within touching distance of promotion and the league title, while Greenock and Kilmarnock are separated by just 1.42%.

But next Saturday, Kilmarnock and Stenhousemuir face each other at Kilmarnock's home ground. A win for Stenhousemuir means they take the title. A loss for Kilmarnock means that if Greenock beat bottom placed GHK then the Glenparkers will be promoted along with Stenny.

However, a win for Kilmarnock will take the race for promotion to the last matches of the season.

So there is a great deal at stake next weekend, and while there will be quite a bit of attention on what's happening at The Scott Ellis Playing Fields in Kilmarnock, Greenock must keep their full focus on their own match against GHK and make sure there are no slip-ups.

Greenock won the toss on Saturday in their match with Renfrew and not surprisingly chose to bat on what was a very hot and sunny afternoon with Glenpark in excellent condition.

However, it was Renfrew who made the better start to the match. With just under six overs bowled Greenock had lost the wickets of Shailesh Prabhu and Lukas Fischer-Keogh and had only 14 runs on the scoreboard.

But those wickets were to be Renfrew's only joy for the next thirty three overs.

Greenock's two Aussie amateurs, Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker, steadied the innings and then gradually built a very fine partnership. The pair batted with patience and concentration and by the first drinks break at the end of the 17th over had taken the home score to 55.

Seeking to make the breakthrough they were needing, Renfrew made numerous bowling changes, but without any joy, and as the end of the 39th over approached, the Greenock score had soared to 151.

But that was where the partnership of 137 runs ended. Nicholson attempted to glance a delivery from Qadeer Ahmad to the leg side only to miss the ball which then took the top of his leg stump. He had scored 8 boundaries and one six in his innings of 79 runs.

With eleven overs remaining and seven wickets in hand, Greenock looked to take their total well past 200 and Ryan Walker duly took command along with in-coming batsman Gregor Chambers.

The fourth wicket partnership between them put on 61 runs before Chambers was LBW for 17 to Waqas Arshad with just two overs remaining.

Renfrew then picked up two more late wickets as Greenock looked to score quick runs in the last few balls. But not before Ryan Walker reached a richly deserved century.

At the close of the innings Greenock had scored 226 for the loss of 6 wickets and Walker was 104 not out having scored 8 boundaries and one maximum six-hit out of the ground.

After a long afternoon in the field, Renfrew began their innings needing to score at a rate of just under five runs per over. However, the team from further up the Clyde set off at a fast pace and after just five overs there were 31 runs on the scoreboard without loss.

And with just one ball of the eighth over remaining the score stood on 57.

The first Renfrew wicket was then captured when two of Greenock's young teenage prospects combined to take the wicket of Rahul Jagdale. The opening batsman had been playing a secondary role to his partner Israr Hussain who had been the main run scorer.

Jagdale was on just 8 runs when Calder caused him to mis-time a shot and the ball lofted to Aryan Sanghera at mid-wicket and he took a straightforward catch.

Greenock then made a double bowling change by bringing on Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker. And a second wicket was soon delivered when Walker, with only his second ball, had new batsman Haider trapped LBW for 7 runs with the visitors' score having moved on to 66 in the tenth over.

Four overs later, Greenock got the important wicket of Israr Hussain, the visitors' captain. He had been scoring freely and had hit nine boundaries in his score of 56 from just 39 balls when he attempted to hit Walker for another boundary, over the heads of the offside fielders only to find the safe hands of Cammy Calder at extra cover.

New batsman Abbasi departed just two balls later without scoring when he gave a return catch to Ryan Walker. Then next man in to bat, Bhavjot Singh, was also out for nought when he was bowled by Tom Nicholson in the following over.

This made the Renfrew score 92 after 15 overs. And although 5 wickets down, Renfrew were far from finished as they were well ahead on the required run-rate.

The major turning point in the game came midway through the 28th over with the visitors having moved on to 148.

Renfrew's Pakistani professional Farhan Khan was approaching his half century and batting with ease against the Greenock bowling. Then Ryan Walker, who was bowling his own tenth and final over, lured Khan (47) into a cut shot only for him to chop the ball on to his stumps.

The partnership which Khan had built along with Himanshu Sharma totalled 56 runs and had taken his side to within 78 runs for victory with 22 overs still to play. It had given Renfrew real hope of a win.

But just nine runs later Sharma (27) was LBW to Greg McDougall and Greenock sensed victory. And when two further wickets fell to the bowling of Gregor Chambers in the space of three balls in the 37th over, Renfrew still required 51 runs to win with just one wicket remaining.

Greenock gained the important win when the innings ended on 187. Last man Qadeer Ahmad was bowled by Ewan Stewart leaving Sajjad Ahmed not out on 18.