Unfortunately for FP’s 2nd XI, the outside chance for promotion to Grade 2 had more or less gone. But the last game of the season was against 4th place Ellon 2nd XI, so there was more than just pride to play for, there was 3rd top place to play for. All this in a season where 3rd bottom and the avoidance of relegation back to Grade 4 was the initial aim. Due to the rugby season starting early, the home game was played over the wall at neighbours Queens Cross Harlaw pitch.
For the Ellon match there six changes from the last game, back into the team came experienced Ian Goodenough, playing his third game for FP’s were Melvin Joy and Arun Chithambaram playing their second game were Purvesh Shah and Sachin Inamdar, and making his debut was Alastair Burke.
The pitch at Harlaw was damp at both ends from just short of a length, and the outfield had just been harvested, with Ellon skipper Hutcheson saying he should have brought a bailer.
The toss was won by Ellon who were a man short, and the game started with a steady roll of drying grass blowing across the wicket in a very strong westerly wind.
Grammar, put into bat, did not get off to a very good start when Johnston was out in the third over, caught behind off a faint touch of the glove, not felt, but unfortunately heard, and FP’s were 0-1.
New batsman Shah was looking to score at every opportunity, and played some powerful shots especially to the legside, with a pull for six and four in the same over standing out. He also played a couple of classy late cuts through gully which deserved to reach the boundary rather than disappear in a cloud of cuttings. But Fryer was also suffering the curse of the outfield, one back foot drive through the covers would have rebounded off the wall but for the outfield.
Ellon opening bowlers Hede and Dalgarno had bowled well and were both rested after their allowed six over spell, FP’s score 44 -1 off 12 overs. New bowler Park struck in his second over when Fryer was bowled by a yorker for 18, FP’s 63 – 2.
Grammar then had a bit of a collapse losing seven wickets for 33 runs. Purvesh was dismissed when he tried to turn a straight ball from Park to the legside and was given out LBW for an attractive 44 (1 x 6, 5 x 4, several x walked 2’s). Muthu had scored 6 when he was out caught off Dalgarno, Karthik was bowled by a big wind assisted inswinger bowled by Proctor, as was Burke for 3 and very next ball Joy was out caught, leaving FP’s 91 – 7 off 29 overs.
Every run was vital now and Sachin played a couple of good drives while scoring 5, and Goodenough was out for 13 having hit a couple of legside shots which were hit goodenough but not quite hardenough to roll over grass not cut shortenough. Last wicket pair Magesh (2no) and Arun (5) added an entertaining 11 runs, including a well struck boundary by Arun, before he was dismissed attempting another big hit. FP’s total 119 all out off 39.1 overs.
Not the best batting performance of the season, one which would have looked much worse but for the 63 runs partnership of Shah and Fryer. But if the mainly inexperienced FP’s bowlers could bowl line and length on a helpful wicket, a win was still possible. Ellon would have 50 overs to score the 120 required.
Karthik and Melvin opened the bowling and both bowled well, after 6 overs, 10 man Ellon were 16 – 0. In Karthik’s fourth over Dalgarno drove to mid on where Fryer made a tricky catch look easy and Ellon were 16 – 1. Wickets came like buses, Haseeb was run out by Magesh and Muthu, and Proctor was bowled by a beauty from Karthik, Ellon 22 – 3 off 9 overs.
Opener Montgomery and the equally experienced Parks steadied the innings with a big stand of 56, seeing off Karthik who bowled just about his best spell of the season, 12 – 2 – 19 – 2. Magesh replaced Roy, but this seasons leading wicket taker was bowling accurately but having no luck as the batsmen were not to be tempted. Off spinner Burke was given a debut bowl and got some turn, but again no luck in his spell.
Sachin had replaced Karthik and bowled accurately and finally made the breakthrough when he broke through Parks’s defence, bowling him for 18, score 78 – 4. Ellon progressed to 90 – 4 and required only 30 further runs when Hutcheson drove Shah over mid off, or it looked like over mid off to everyone until Sachin produced a Magners advert moment and brilliantly caught the ball which looked to have past him. FP’s now had a sniff of victory and were reminded that even England lost 7 wickets for 27 the previous day, and one wicket often leads to three.
Purvesh was bowling excellently and took further wickets in his next two overs bowling Dunz for a duck and having Hede LBW for 2, and suddenly Ellon were 95 – 7. The game was there to be won again, but the even more experienced batsman Mackie and still battling Montgomerie scored carefully.
FP’s were ringing the changes, Magesh bowled a couple of overs and FP’s even persuaded Fryer to come out of bowling retirement to try for the final breakthrough. The pressure was telling on both teams, a couple of chances were missed by FP’s, but with the score on 111, Sachin tempted Mackie with a full toss and held on to the return catch to dismiss the batsman. Ellon now 8 batmen out, 8 runs short, but crucially, one batsman short.
Last man in was young Iqbal who could only last two balls as Sachin ended an exciting match by bowling him for a duck, FP’s winning by 8 runs. For Ellon, Montgomerie had batted with great patience and carried his bat with 51 n.o.
FP’s bowling Karthik 12 – 2 – 19 – 2, Melvin 5 – 0 – 14 – 0, Magesh 9 – 2 – 19 – 0, Sachin 7 – 1 – 20 – 3, Burke 3 – 0 – 16 – 0, Purvesh 8 – 1 – 14 – 3, Fryer 3 – 1 – 3 – 0
It was good to see most of the team go back to the clubhouse for a drink after the game with the 1st XI who had just avoided relegation by beating Banchory in another thriller.
FP’s 2nd XI clinched third place in Grade 3 in a game which could have gone either and looked to be going Ellon’s way at one point. That was until Sachin’s catch followed by his two wickets, a great way for him to end his short stay in Aberdeen.
Another player ending a longer stay in Aberdeen is Muthu who is moving to Singapore. He will be a great loss to FP’s as he was a key player this season, a stylish wicketkeeper, batsman and run pincher extraordinaire with a great will to win.
Man of the Match – Purvesh, top score with 44, top bowling with 3 – 14.
Champagne Moment – Sachin’s great catch which turned the match.