Rain puts a dampener on Grade Two league clash

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Banchory 1st XI 205 for 7

Caledonian 175 for 7

At the start of last Saturday’s Grade Two league match at the Burnett Park the weather gods had pulled out all their stops: blue skies, warm temperatures and, for once, a dry wicket with a lightning fast outfield. But heavy showers later in the day affected this encounter to the detriment of the game.

Stand-in skipper Sam Rotheram lost the toss and was quite happy to be asked to bat first by the Caledonian captain. Initially the strong home side batting order had the best of the conditions and throughout their innings maintained an average of around five runs an over.

Rotheram and Sean Hicks raced to 46 in only seven overs when both fell in quick succession. Hicks (19) played on while the free-scoring Sam (25) fell to a fine catch at long on, both victims of Safee Mohamed’s opening burst.

ajahat Ali and the promising Sandy Richards kept the momentum going, the latter understandably circumspect to begin with in partnership with his more free-flowing partner. The pair put on 78 for the third wicket in increasingly aggressive style and a really big score was in prospect. Both fell to paceman Giet Grover - Sandy (27),in a really sensible knock, was caught and bowled while Ali (56) saw his off-stick cartwheel. Ali has now scored 238 in three innings with an average of 119!

With clouds amassing to the west and the prospect of approaching showers, the race to an early 42 over declaration was helped by brisk knocks from Sunil Chikkanna (22), Tim Wilkinson (18 not out) and Rahul Maheshwari (eight not out). The welcome return of Saad Khan garnered only nine runs but this accomplished batsman was admittedly a bit rusty.

Banchory’s final tally of 205 for seven would be a challenging one for the Aberdeen side for whom Grover took two for 58, Mohamed two for 50 and Khan two for 46.

Unfortunately, the heavy showers towards the end of the first innings and causing two more interruptions during the second transformed the match. The Banchory bowlers had to use a ball which turned into a bar of soap and it made fielding a bit of a lottery.

Caledonian began extremely cautiously, crawling to a meagre total of 39 in 16 overs for the loss of Alastair Smith (two) bowled by a beauty from the promising Noby Jacob. So slow was opener Moizuddin that he was still on two after 20 overs. But his was a cleverly manufactured innings, and he and Khan were beginning to dominate proceedings. Khan had a life in the 40s when he was dropped in the deep by Tim Wilkinson but with the score on 96 he finally fell for a fine 69 when he was bowled by John Varghese, another new Banchory bowler who shows much potential.

At 140 for two, and with Moiz beginning to free his arms and play elegant drives, the home side were briefly facing defeat, especially when Wilkinson failed to hang on to a Moiz drive at mid-off. As well as Moiz batted, his partners were not of the same calibre and three farcical run outs in quick succession deprived Caledonian of any momentum and the draw became inevitable. Moiz was stranded at the end on 71 not out.

Banchory’s bowlers stuck to their task well despite the conditions with the reliable Johnny Millar taking two for 40, Noby Jacob one for 40 and John Varghese one for 33. The two spinners, Rahul Maheshwari (0 for 30) and Tim Wilkinson (0 for 25), were faced with spinner-unfriendly conditions. Banchory’s 24 points from this match consolidates their fifth position in Grade Two with the top sides in touching distance.

Saturday’s match ball was donated by Cordiners Sawmills Ltd.