The Second XI’s opening away match this season was at the Duthie Park against Portcullis. Our large squad fluctuated from ten available on Friday morning to thirteen by Saturday lunchtime. Eventually there were four changes from the washed out opening match, Mutu was unavailable, Phillips had work commitments, Houghton was hospitalised with hopefully a non-Mexican strain of chickenpox, and Blyth was planning his forthcoming wedding.
FP’s had two debutants, Kamran and Raam, Mike Hart made his annual comeback and Raj travelled up from Edinburgh to help us out again.
The weather was pleasantly sunny but breezy and the wicket was very dry with patches of green. Grammar won the toss and Portcullis were asked bat first.
Karthik opened the bowling from the River End with Magesh bowling from the Bandstand end. Opening batsman Venu immediately went for his shots hitting 4 x 4s and a 6 in his first seven scoring shots, grunting like Monica Seles with the effort. But it was the fielding side who were grunting when he was dropped first over off Karthik. The score was 31 when Magesh had Kris easily caught by Karthik for 1 run in the 6th over. New batsman Rahul also attacked from the start, with 5 x 4’s in his first seven scoring shots, and with the score on 58 -1 after 11 overs, Youles replaced Magesh (5-0-32-1) from the Bandstand end.
This inspired bowling change had an immediate impact when Venu was bowled first ball. Youles took a second wicket in his second over when Chetan was very well caught by Raj at deep square leg, score 77 – 3, 13.3 overs.
Hart replaced Karthik and his first two overs were punished by Rahul, conceding 23 runs. But at the other end, Youles struck again when Cox was bowled for 7, score 113 – 5, 18 overs. Hart was allowed to continue, and conceded only 2 runs in his next 4 overs, and claimed 2 wickets, having Van Heerden well held by Kamran in the covers, and then reacting very quickly to take a return catch from Collinson in the same over. Portcullis were now 126 – 7, 25 overs.
Youles had not taken a wicket for two overs and was replaced by Karthik from the bandstand end, Youles bowled 7-0-30-4 on his successful comeback from injury.
The Portcullis total was given a boost by a flurry of extras, but Hart (10-2-33-4) continued his wicket taking spell when he bowled Wilson for a duck, and then Adie was caught by Luigi Govil for 5, a catch Govil would not have got near in a previous lifestyle, which probably explains the dramatic post catch double somersault. As a reward Govil replaced Karthik (10-1-55-0) and bowled a tidy spell of 1.1 overs before Hall was run out as he desperately tried to avoid facing Govil.
Portcullis total 160 all out off 33.1 overs, a good scoring rate helped by some early season catching where it looked like the FP’s fielders couldn’t catch flu in Mexico, but fortunately things improved, and catches held eventually overtook catches dropped. There were also several shots which just fell wide of fielders. Karthik in particular was unfortunate, having three catches dropped off his bowling. Wicketkeeper Fraser kept the extras total down to a reasonable early bowl of the season level with some excellent stops.
Grammar opened the batting with 56 overs to score the required runs and two experienced openers in Fryer and Youles. But FP’s suffered an early setback when Youles was bowled second over for a duck attempting to pull a ball which may have kept a little low, may have, but didn’t. New batsman Govil then completed Chetan’s first over by hitting two 4’s. Fryer fatally went back to Chetan and was given out LBW for 7 in the 4th over, score 18-2.
More enthusiastic appealing followed, but Govil and Johnston added 40 chanceless runs when Johnston was bowled by Venu for 7.
Govil had been driving the ball with great timing and hit 7 x 4’s when he was caught in the covers for a quick 38 runs, score 60 – 4, 13 overs. Govil’s batting had meant that Grammar were ahead of the required scoring rate.
Karthik and Fraser looked comfortable as they added 50 runs at four an over, and just as Portcullis were obviously losing heart, Karthik was give out LBW to Rahul for 31, score 110 – 5, 24.1 overs. Next ball Hart was clean bowled and suddenly the FP’s were struggling. Magesh survived the hat trick ball, despite a loud appeal for LBW before the ball had even reached the batsman(!)
Portcullis had Magesh bowled by Rahul for 2, score 119-7, and the writing was on the wall for Grammar when Raam was out caught by an alert mid on for a duck. Kamran was next out to a very close LBW for 1, and after a long over of extras, Fraser was last man out bowled by Chetan by the unplayable ball of the day for a fighting 12 runs. Grammar all out 132 off 31.2 overs.
While Govil , Karthik and Fraser were batting a victory for the FP’s was a distinct possibility, but once Portcullis gained the upper hand there was no stopping them.
However FP’s gained 17 points from the defeat, a reasonable return from the first completed match of the season.
Man of the Match – Karthik, bowled without luck, fielded brilliantly, scored 31 runs.