Dalal puts West to the sword

West of Scotland v Greenock 1st XI
WDCU Premiership One
Saturday 20th May 2023

West of Scotland 149 S Sharma 61, KJ Sajjad 36
Greenock 1st XI 150 for 6 R Dalal 105*


The 1st XI waited almost three weeks for a competitive win and then, just like the buses, along came two in quick succession. The first arrived on Thursday evening when East Kilbride were defeated in the first round of the Rowan Cup and then on Saturday, they gained a first win in the Western Premiership One.

The Rowan Cup victory undoubtedly gave the team a much needed lift and encouragement for the trip to play West of Scotland at Hamilton Crescent on Saturday afternoon.

But it was a superb unbeaten century by club professional Rahul Dalal which was the key ingredient. He scored 105 not out from just 70 balls during which he hit ten boundaries and six maximums. His innings was exactly from the script that brought him to the attention of Greenock and showed why he was the leading run-scorer back home in India in the Ranji Trophy just a few years ago.

Dalal's innings was a quite spectacular feast of run-scoring. A spectator's dream and a bowler's nightmare.

The afternoon's play began with West being inserted by the Greenock captain, Greg McDougall, who won the pre-match toss of the coin.

In the first few overs, the team's opening bowlers Gregor Chambers and Cammy Calder found the Hamilton Crescent slope quite a test and a number of wides were bowled which gave the home team some easy runs.

But Calder picked up an early wicket when he got a delivery on target and Sam Jacobsen was removed LBW in the fourth over with the score on 16.

A second wicket fell in the ninth over when Sam Sanghera held on to a good catch off the bowling of Chambers to send the dangerous Jonnie Oliver back to the clubhouse having scored just 4 runs from 11 balls.

Having lost two of their batting top order, West struggled to get any momentum going as the visiting attack made regular bowling changes and further wickets fell without any meaningful partnerships being built by the Hamilton Crescent team.

Jedhli Van Brieses was dismissed LBW by Cammy Calder in the second over of his second spell of bowling with the score on 58 in the 17th over.

And then a further two wickets fell with the score on 68.

First to go was Sam Page, caught by wicketkeeper Lukas Fischer-Keogh from the bowling of Sam Sanghera. Page had scored just one run from 14 balls. Then Rahul Dalal bowled opening bat Kess Sajjad who had scored 36 and had been West's only batsman to seem confident against the attack.

With the score on 68 for the loss of 5 wickets after 20 overs, West were looking extremely vulnerable.

A partnership of 26 runs from West's captain James Fennah and Shubhang Sharma steadied the home side for a while, but once again the loss of one wicket brought about another very rapidly.

Fennah (7) was caught by Chirag Pandher off the bowling of Sanghera with the score on 94 and only a further two runs had been added when new batsman Tom Spensley was caught and bowled by Rahul Dalal immediately prior to the drinks break after 25 overs.

An eighth wicket was captured when Dave McNulty was run out with the West score having moved on to 105. But fortunately for West, Sharma was batting well and the home side's biggest partnership of the afternoon came when he was joined by number ten batsman Gavin Smith.

Sharma and Smith added 41 runs in the ninth wicket partnership which was the largest of the innings. Sharma was the mainstay of the partnership with only two runs coming from Smith who played a back-up role.

But it was Sharma who was dismissed and the partnership broken with the first ball of the 33rd over. He was caught by Gregor Chambers off the bowling of Greg McDougall. The number six batsman scored 61 runs with six boundaries and two maximums to his credit.

West were all out with only a further three runs added when last man Dutia was run out with the score on 49.

Dalal, Sanghera and Calder each picked up two wickets and McDougall and Chambers one apiece.

At 105 for the loss of 8 wickets, West had looked down and almost out. But Sharma's innings had taken West to 146 and changed the look of the game significantly. The 1st XI now faced a much greater challenge than prior to the ninth wicket partnership.

After the tea interval, the visitors' reply got off to poor start with Tom Polkinghorne, Harry Briggs and Lukas Fischer-Keogh all dismissed within the first five overs.

But thereafter the complexion of the match changed in their favour as Rahul Dalal took centre stage. In the space of just the first six balls which he faced, the Indian pro smashed a boundary and then a maximum six off the bowling of Dave McNulty as he signalled his intent.

And in the fourth wicket partnership with Gregor Chambers which added 71 runs and took the score to 84 for 4, Dalal scored 53 of the runs. Chambers scored 12 runs from 27 balls faced before being adjudged LBW from the bowling of Sajjad.

A further twenty five runs were added to the score before the team suffered a double setback when both Nagendra Nagaraju and Chirag Pandher were dismissed to make the score 109 for the loss of 6 wickets.

But Dalal was in full flow, and with new batsman Cammy Calder also playing a fine supporting role, the pair continued to score at a fast pace.

Dalal reached his century in magnificent fashion when he smashed the fifth ball of the 26th over of the innings high over the boundary for six and received rousing applause from his fellow players and the travelling Glenpark support.

With the target now within close sight, Calder hit Spensley for a boundary and a six from consecutive balls and when he added two further runs a first league win of the season had been secured. The young batsman was 13 not out and Dalal 105 not out when play ended.