FPs just edged out Bon Accord in an enthralling game at Rubislaw. Alex Keith hit a fine 75 and was well supported by Eddie Steinson, Harry Mapplebeck and Karan Anand who all made 24. Anand keeping calm at the end to be unbeaten, along with Chris Clelland who made a priceless 8 not out. It means that FPs are now hot on the heels of the leaders in the Grade 1 title race. Earlier, the unlikely name of Eddie Steinson produced an inspired bowling spell with 3 wickets as Awan made 70 for the visitors.
FPs were forced into a late change with John Thomson dropping out and Aman Sood stepping in from 2nds. With a lack of bowlers available, FPs went in with only 3 frontline bowlers, but some masterful captaincy ensured FPs mixed things up well. In full the side was Keith, Morrison, Steinson, Swiergon, Mapplebeck, Anand, Senthil, Davey, Clelland, Sood and Roland Knudson.
Mapplebeck found his line and length straight away and had a sustained LBW shout against Awan turned down 1st ball, a very close call. Ahmed also had a lucky escape 1st ball, Senthil dropping a tough chance of Anand. Anand was unlucky again when Swiergon dropped Ahmed as FPs let key chances slip.
It took a change of bowling to bring the breakthrough, Ahmed shovelling Knudson’s 4th ball straight down Steinson’s throat on the boundary to depart for 10, 31 for 1. It should have been much better for FPs when Morrison missed a fairly routine chance at long on to get rid of dangerman Awan, many wondering if he had just dropped the grades. Sood bared the brunt as Awan hit his next over for 22.
FPs were still battling hard and the decision to bring on Steinson for his 1st bowl of the season looked inspired when a huge Mirza edge was gathered by Clelland, the umpire sending him on his way for 7. 79 for 2. It was soon 84 for 3 as Haider spooned a Knudson full toss straight to Sood who took a very good catch. Awan had reached 70 out of the 94 scored when that man Steinson had him well caught by Swiergon at mid on, as FPs started to take control. Steinson had a 3rd when he bowled Ahmed for a duck.
Skipper Swiergon was so impressed by his own decisions he surprised everyone and brought himself on and he was soon wheeling away in celebration as his 1st ball was nicked by Gopihathan to Clelland for 12. Bon Accord suddenly struggling at115 for 6.
Andy Win by now had arrived and went in at 7 and was joined by Bhalani and they moved the score to 130 before the returning Sood got a well deserved wicket, Win playing on for 12. Any hope FPs had of getting Bons out for under 150 evaporated as Bhalani and Sood combined to add 43. It took some inspired fielding from Anand to run out Bhalani for 23, a direct hit with 1 1/2 stumps to aim at doing the job. Anand finally got a wicket when some superb work from Clelland had Sood stumped for 24.
Mapplebeck finished things off as Malik skied to point where Keith took the catch. Bon Accord all out for 181. Given the slightly restricted resources for FPs it was a fine effort with all bowlers doing well and and if the catching had been better, FPs would have been chasing 60 less. Mapplebeck 9.2-1-24-1, Anand 10-1-37-1, Knudson 10-0-34-2, Sood 7-0-47-1, Steinson 6-0-23-2 and Swiergon 2-0-15-1.
Morrison was rejoined by usual opening partner Keith and they had looked solid until Morrison was rather unfortunately adjudged LBW to Malik for 4, a large inside edge going undetected, FPs 15 for 1. However Steinson steadied the ship as he and Keith added 67 with minimal fuss, until Steinson was bowled by a beauty by win for 24. Keith carried on undeterred and raised his 50 from 57 balls as he as Swiergon looked to build a winning stand. Swiergon though could make just 8, before edging Win to Haider, 116 for 3.
Morrrison sent in Mapplebeck at 5 and it proved a good choice as he and Keith ran well to edge FPs closed to their target. Keith was looking assured and it was something of a surprise when he was dismissed for 75 (11×4). He had been driving well but picked out Malik at mid on, who took a fine catch above his head, Ahmed the bowler.
It meant FPs still needed 51 with 12 overs remaining. Mapplebeck and new man Anand added 27, Anand hitting a huge straight six off Win into the pavillion. He launched another massive hit off Bhalani, which somehow did not break a pavillion window. Just when FPs looked as if they had the match won they lost a clutch of wickets. First Mapplebeck played on to Awan for a good 24 and Davey followed him for a duck bowled off his pads by Bhalani. FPs 6 down still needing 17 to win.
Senthil smacked a 4 but edged Bhalani behind for 5 as FPs stuttered with the winning line in sight. Lucky FPs still had batting to come and last weeks opener Clelland arrived at 9. He celeverly guided Awan for 4 through theslips and Anand grabbed a couple of sharp singles as the equation eased to 6 from 3 overs. Clelland levelled the scores by hammering a Bhalani full toss for 4 leaving Anand to cut the winning runs with another 4 as he ended on a measured 24 not out, Clelland on 8.
Overall it was an excellent win by FPs, in a game played competitively but fairly, well marshalled by umpire Russell Brown. It means that FPs still need help from elsewhere if they can win all remaining games but hugely boosted their chances of at least finishing 2nd. On Sunday FPs face a very tough cup tie against Knightriders in the cup semi final, a team who FPs have already lost to in the league. They are hopeful that Thomson will return and will make 2 other changes with Sam Knudson and Agha Haider coming in, Mapplebeck, Sood and Davey dropping out.
Eddie Steinson made a strong claim with his 3 wickets removing 2 of the real dangermen but Alex Keith’s cultured 75 was the mainstay of FPs innings and ensured FPs won.