Desai proves the deciding factor

A strong all-round performance from Vishal Desai, strongly supported by his teammates, gave FP 2nd XI the edge in their winner-takes-all Reid Cup clash with arch-rivals Kemnay-Kintore at Bogbeth Park. Desai top scored with 29 before taking 3-19 to see FP’s into the Final where they will face Portcullis on Saturday 16th August.

FP’s lined up as follows, Magesh Devendran (C), Matt Barker (VC), Hemal Kumar Chovatiya, John Eagles, Karthik Mohanan, Kieran Whyte, Matthew Lynch, Melvin Joy (WKT), Rutwik Hedge, Thomas Kiwara, Vishal Desai.

The weather was perfect for a day of cricket at the delightfully named Bogbeth Park. Winning the toss, as usual, Captain Devendran chose to bat with the aim of posting 180 runs in the 40 overs available. Unfortunately neither FP opener contributed much to that target; Barker departing without scoring, bowled by a full-pitched delivery from Thom, Kiwara following soon after for 7, also bowled by Thom.

The usually dependable Eagles was joined at the crease by Mohanan, but despite seeing off some good bowling from Thom and Mirashi he was bowled by the latter without scoring. With the scoreboard reading a worrying 10/3, Mohanan and Hedge proceeded to steady the ship, adding 28 to the score before the attack-minded Mohanan was caught by Mirashi from the bowling of Thom for 18.

With FP’s innings balanced on a knife-edge it would take some sturdy batting to post a sizeable target. Fortunately there are none sturdier than Vishal Desai who, ably supported by Hedge, was able to milk the bowling for 29 valuable runs before eventually being bowled by Radnall. Hedge took some fairly intrusive sledging from the KK fielders who quite wrongly seemed to think he “only had one shot” and set their field accordingly. Hedge ignored the sledge however and came away with a well-crafted innings of 27.

Whyte and Joy came and went without adding to the score, Whyte getting a beaut from Thom first ball to take out his off stump, Joy taking the unenviable plaudit of being the only player to be given out LBW in the match, also to Thom who by now had 6 wickets to his name.

The FP’s score was still not looking ideal at 108/8 in the 27th over following the departure of Desai. Fortunately a strong rearguard action from Devendran, Lynch and Chovatiya combined with some wayward bowling by KK saw FPs through to a respectable total of 154.

Devendran held up one end very effectively allowing the FP’s score to accumulate through multiple wides and no-balls, facing 43 deliveries and scoring 6 before being caught by Thom from Mirashi. Debutant Matty Lynch played a creditable innings featuring some textbook shots to make 17 valuable runs at number 10 before being bowled by Radwall; whilst Chovatiya finished on 6 n.o. courtesy of an enormous straight 6.

Liam Thom was the pick of the KK bowlers with 6-30 but the mutual decision to call all leg-side balls as wides resulted in them shipping 42 extras in that area alone and allowed FP’s to dig in and post a decent score.

With Captain Devendran’s words ringing in their ears, the athletic FP’s team took to the field determined to book their place in the Final.

Opening with Whyte and Desai, FP’s fielded with remarkable energy and accuracy, supporting the bowlers well. Both Whyte and Desai moved the ball well in the air and off the pitch and were both unlucky to take early wickets.

Desai was the first to strike in the 8th over, clean bowling Fyffe with a ball that moved a mile. Whyte bowled with menace and purpose but was unable to claim a deserved wicket before being replaced by Chovatiya who was next to strike, picking up the other opener, Fowlie, Mohanan clinging onto the catch.

Dickson was the next batsmen in and played with more than a little luck to score 27 before being bowled by Chovatiya. Summers and Mirashi fell victim to the demon spin of Eagles for 6 and 2 respectively both well caught in the deep by Kiwi Kiwara.

Thom came to the crease looking to steady the ship but was unable to deal with a full-toss from Chovatiya first ball, chipping the ball to Barker at mid-wicket who claimed it with his usual poise and grace.

Having kept the scoring rate down early on, and now with wickets falling, FP’s sensed the win was within their grasp. 72/6 in the 26th over quickly became 85/8 in the 29th, Holt (5) and Radnall (2) the batsmen to depart both bowled by the irresistible Eagles. Radnall in particular was aggrieved to depart, throwing his bat to the ground in disgust.

Injured wicket-keeper Cole provided a late cameo batting further down the order than usual. He put on 22 and shielded the tail-enders well before dishing one up to Eagles at cover, that man Desai the bowler. No. 11 Hawkins saw off a couple of balls before being bowled by Desai, the ball still swinging late on for the big man.

The game was up for KK, a final score of exactly 100 giving FP’s a 54 run victory and a place in the Reid Cup final. For FP’s it was just desserts after losing the cup to KK on a technicality the year before.

This was a real team effort from FP’s with the field backing up an aggressive and accurate bowling attack. A key factor in the match was the number of wides shipped by KK, 42, compared to FP’s much more acceptable tally of 13. FP’s will want to improve their batting performance for the final but will take heart from their performance in the field.

Man of the Match – Vishal Desai
Champagne Moment – No. 11 batsman Chovatiya’s enormous straight 6

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