FPs chances of bouncing straight back to grade 1 suffered another blow with a 5 wicket defeat at the hands of Artisans. FPs were once again badly hampered by player unavailability with only Roland Knudson, Morrison, Lord and Eagles available from the side that lost to St Ronald. Fraser returned after being left out last week and Stuart also started. Johnston, Sam Knudson, Karthick, Magesh and Rizwan were called up as seconds were forced to scratch.
FPs lost the toss and were invited to bat on a tricky looking Sheddocksley surface. Lord and Johnston opened against the new ball pairing of Islam and Forsyth and it was not long till Islam struck with Johnston well caught in the slips by the diving Dickie for a duck. Lord however was looking in good touch and launched Forsyth for six over long on to quickly move to 15. He soon lost his new partner though as Roland Knudson was caught and bowled by Forsyth for a duck. Things were about to get far worse for FPs as firstly Lord was bowled via his pads by Forsyth for 18 and then Sam Knudson was yorked by Islam for 5 leaving FPs in dire straits at 26 for 4.
This brought Eagles and Karthik together and they did a fine job resurrecting the innings in an entertaining 56 run partnership. Karthik opened his account with 3 fours and Eagles joined in launching Forsyth over cover for a towering six. Both players were looking in great touch and with Eagles on 25, he could not believe it when he guided a short and wide delivery straight to gully who held a good catch.
This brought Fraser out to the middle and despite a lack of runs recently, he played fluently from the start sharing a fine 47 run partnership with Karthik. With Fraser keen to find the gaps and pick up ones, Karthik was mixing solid defence with positive aggression hitting Ashish for two straight sixes. He completed a well deserved 50 with an excellent cover drive, but unfortunately fell soon after bowled by Ajay for a fine 53. Morrison and Magesh both came and went for 1, before Fraser was bowled for 18 and Stuart was cleaned up for a duck, leaving Rizwan on 10 not out. A total of 143 at least gave FPs something to bowl at on what had proved a tricky pitch. Forsyth with 3 for 38 and Ajay’s 3 for 9 were the stand out Artisans bowlers.
FPs knew they needed early wickets and they got 1 in the second over when Munro top edged Karthik to point where Stuart took a very well judged swirling catch. Sam Knudson was looking lively at the other end without much luck but in his sixth over he found the breakthrough having Vyas well caught by the diving Karthik at fine leg to leave Artisans on 43 for 2. Steve Dickie and Hamish then built a useful 40 partnership, with Dickie looking in good form. With Eagles seemingly unplayable all the runs were coming from Stuart’s end as he bowled one of his less good spells conceeding 37 in his 6 overs.
Eagles was in fact proving so difficult to get away that his opening 7 overs were all maidens. Roland Knudson replaced Stuart and struck in his opening over as Dickie was superbly caught by that man Karthik again who ran in 15 yards and dived to take a wonderful catch that even left the batsman speechless. FPs sensed they were back in it and Eagles turned the screw further in the next over as Sam Knudson held Forsyth on the boundary in the calmest of fashions despite barracking from members of the home side leaving Artisans 82 for 4. Islam then came in and hit two big sixes but was soon dismissed by Eagles with Morrison claiming a regulation chance on the boundary.
With over 40 still needed, Roland Knudson then had Tomar caught behind by Fraser off the back of his bat. Astonishingly the umpire ruled otherwise although he was not the target of FPs anger as in grades cricket it is commonly accepted that a batsman walks when he is out. Tempers become somewhat frayed by the incident with Lord, Eagles and Morrison particularly incensed by the batsman. 2 balls later Knudson seemed to have his man anyway LBW but it was ruled to be not out once more. Tomar then certainly took advantage of his let off and despite being dropped a tricky chance by Roland Knudson he hit the runs needed to win the game to end 29 not out. Hamish who had batted the whole innings to make not out 34, had also played a key role.
Bowling wise for FPs, Eagles was exceptional with 2 for 20 with both Knudsons and Karthik the other wicket takers FPs were left to rue the lack of player availability and to wonder what might have been if a few more runs could have been scored. The star FP performer was undoubtedly Karthik with 5o, two wonderful catches and a wicket. FPs must now regroup ahead of a tough away trip to Queens Cross next week.