The previous two matches had seen FP’s 3rd XI fall just one shot short of beating Grade 4 leaders Portcullis with only 10 men, then fall just one extra short of beating 2nd top Siyapa, tieing the match, again with 10 men, so it was a hopeful 3rd XI 3rd time lucky team of 10 which travelled to play Turriff.
The tieing team showed 4 changes, the new line up Ian Johnston, Paul Norwood, Jim Lee (wkt), Paul McDonald, Rutwik Hegde, Matt Garratt, Mike Blues, Rajaa Monnapillai, Akil Thanga, Leston D’Costa.
The toss was won by FP’s under a sunny sky who invited Turriff to bat first on a beautiful flat, well maintained square, a treat compared to a couple of the ‘wickets’ ‘prepared’ by the council in Aberdeen . The outfield, maintained by the local council, was badly in need of trim or two.
Monnapillai and Blues opened the bowling and both bowled with good control, the usually hard hitting I. Smart having only a couple of hittable balls in the first 10 overs. The long awaited first wicket was deservedly taken by Blues, but it took a great low diving catch by Monnapillai at second slip to remove the stubborn opener D. Chalmers for 1, Turriff score 26 – 1 off 11.4 overs.
Monnapillai had bowled 6 – 2 – 14 – 0 and was replaced by classmate Hegde who opened with a maiden. In Hegde’s fourth over, Smart was finally dismissed thanks to a smart catch at point by D’Costa for 22 (3 x 4), Turriff 42 – 2 off 18.3 overs.
Blues had bowled his best spell of the season, 8 – 1 – 15 – 1 and was replaced by Thanga, who had only a single scored off his first over. But left hander S. Lings and G. Duncan added 40 runs, Lings especially hitting anything on leg and middle hard to the leg side. D’Cosa was unlucky when a catch was dropped at deep square leg. It took an even better catch at second slip by Monnapillai to dismiss Duncan for 12, Monnapillai again diving low to take the catch in his left hand, a spectacular effort, Turriff 82 – 3.
Lings and I. Doss added 16 quick runs, but a perfect delivery by Hegde bowled I. Doss for 8 (1 x4). Unfortunately for FP’s a rash of wides boosted the Turriff score as two or three bowlers tried too hard to take wickets. The pitch was playing well, but the bowlers radar for some reason switched off. But the big breakthrough came when Thanga took the crucial wicket of Lings with the last ball of the 37th over, Lings playing one skied shot to the legside too many, McDonald did not have to move on the boundary and took the catch with the minimum of fuss, Turriff 133 – 5, Lings scoring 45 (2 x 6, 3 x 4).
FP’s then took 5 wickets for 19 runs as FP’s took an unprecedented third catch at slip, this time a cool catch by Norwood off Thanga’s first ball of the 39th over. The hat trick ball was safely negotiated, but next ball saw Johnston dive to his right at short cover to intercept a drive by C. Peters, Turriff 136 – 7.
Next over Blues had F. Smart dismissed LBW, Wechsler was bowled by Monnapillai and McDonald took a simple catch at extra cover to dismiss Swan off Thanga, Turriff all out 154 off 45.5 overs.
FP’s bowling was mixed with keeper Lee given a tough time by far too much wayward bowling, 54 extras being top scorer for Turriff and only Blues and D’Costa blameless.. The bowlers were helped by having 7 catches held, two or three of them being bonus catches.
Following tea, Norwood and Lee opened the batting for FP’s, but Grammar found the Turriff opening bowlers as difficulty to score off as Turriff had found FP’s bowling. Both batsmen fell with the total on 8, Norwood bowled by Laing for 5, Lee bowled by Lings for 2.
McDonald and Hegde then dug in and played some good drives, unfortunately the outfield taking the edge off the shots. But some excellent running between the wickets helped the score mount at a good rate.
The fifty had just been raised when McDonald was beaten by a good ball from Doss and bowled for 24 (2 x 4). Hegde was next out 8 runs later, bowled by Smart for 11.
Garrett and Blues then batted with great patience and straight bats and kept FP’s in touch with the asking rate but both also missing out by the lush outfield which made it seem like it was all uphill. The 5th wicket had added 75 runs and FP’s were looking favourites to win when Blues was bowled by Doss for a classy 20 (1 x 4), FP’s 135 – 5 off 41 overs, meaning 20 runs required off 3 overs.
Garratt had timed the innings beautifully including a great pull shot for 6 off Doss. The Turriff bowling was losing it’s edge, not helped by some easy catches going down. However new bowler Swan found the way to dismiss a tiring Garratt and his slow bowling meant that Garratt could see that ground shots had no chance of reaching the boundary, so had to go from test match batting to 20/20 batting and unfortunately provided wicketkeeper Chalmers with a catch. Garratt had batted with great control and the straightest of bats, reaching his maiden fifty for FP’s, scoring 51 ( 1 x 6, 3 x 4), FP’s 142 – 6 off 43.4 overs.
The experienced Smart gave batsmen Monnapillai and Thanga no easy balls to hit and Thanga was run out off the last ball for 1, leaving Monnapillai 6 not out and FP’s an agonising 3 runs short of another tie.
An exciting end to a great match enjoyed by both teams and played in good spirit throughout. FP’s were the better team, batting, bowling and especially fielding, however the number of wides conceded cost the team dearly again. This is the 3rd game in a row that would have been won with a ‘normal’ level of extras. A tough way for the inexperienced bowlers to learn.
Man of the Match – Matt Garratt almost batted FP’s to victory with a very impressive 51
Champagne Moment – Rajaa Monnapillai’s second brilliant catch at slip