FPs bounced back from last week’s loss to Inverurie to record a thumping 180 run win at the Links. Despite being somewhat depleted with 2 of the usual top 5 missing and no Mapplebeck, FPs turned in a fine team performance to make an unlikely 307 for 5 on a very difficult Links wicket. Eddie Steinson led the way with a masterful 76 and was well supported by Elia Gubbala who made a composed 46 in a 109 run stand, before Karan Anand took over with a rapid century making 103 not out in the blink of an eye with 7 sixes and 8 fours. FPs then used 8 bowlers who performed well with Poosapaddi (1/25), Knudson (2/19), Thomson (2/33), Gubbala (1/17), Stuart (1/8), Wilkie (2/5) and Morrison (1/1) sharing the wickets.
With various regulars unavailable, FPs brought in Ranald Wilkie, Elia Gubbala and Gary Stuart, with Karan Anand also returning. FPs lined up Morrison, Steinson, Gubbala, Anand, Swiergon, Wilkie, Clelland, Poosappadi, Clelland, Stuart, Knudson, Thomson. FPs won the toss and took the very brave decision to bat on what looked a very sporting track. It looked an even braver decision as Morrison and Steinson were forced to deal with huge variations and bounce but managed to keep the opening bowlers at bay doing well to add 32 for the 1st wicket before Morrison fell somewaht unfortunately. A legside ball by Gibson hitting keeper Thangaraj’s pad and deflecting into the stumps to have Morrison stumped for 16.
It brought Gubbala to the crease and he and Steinson batted superbly together adding 109 together, both regularly finding the boundary and running well together and dealing well with the extreme variations in the wicket. Steinson survived a few chances but battled on to reach 50, but lost partner Gubbala for a well played 46 (5×4, 1×6). It brought Anand to the crease and he appeared to be playing on a different pitch launching a frenzied assault on the bowling including smashing 5 balls for 28 in one Thangaraj over after he had taken off the pads. Anand pased 50 in no time and continued his assault hitting 4s and 6s regardless of the quality of delivery. He lost partner Steinson for 76 (10×4, 2×6), a magnificent knock which set the platform, LBW to Toor who deserved better than his 1 for 30 from 10 overs.
Swiergon came and went for 6, miscuing a long hop to Toor at mid wicket off Khanna. Wilkie smashed a glorious straight six but was bowled by Gibson next ball, but some clever running by new man Clelland got Anand enough strike to complete his stunning century as FPs closed on an impregnable 307 for 5.
Despite Crescent’s task seeming impossible, it was still important that FPs took wickets early to further complicate the chase and they did just that as Crescent slumped to 16 for 2. Swiergon had kept his bold approach by handing offsp[inner Knudson the new ball and he struck early although not quite as planned. A low full toss to Sharma was hammered at Morrison at long on and he managed to hang onto it at the 2nd attempt. New man Toor who had limited luck with the ball, had similar bad luck with the bat, an absolute ripshorter from Poosapaddi, climbing from a length to catch his glove and be caught superbly one handed by Clelland above his head.
Ali hit 5 boundaries but was soon Knudson’s 2nd victim, a sharp turner bowling him comprehensively. Thomson joined the attack and quickly accounted for Nawaz with an unplayable lifting ball that took out leg stump and the n grabbed a 2nd, opener Lings finally going for a spirited 27, Steinson diving to claim a good catch at short cover. Crescent now 5 down for 72. It was soon 6 as new bowler Elia Gubbala got a ball to cut back and clean up Thashin for 12.
Swiergon kept ringing the changes and the changes kept working as Gary Stuart rolled back the years to produce the ball of the game which swung in and moved away off the seam, Thangaraj doing well to edge trough to Clelland for an aggressive 29. Another bowling change brought Wilkie on at the Leisure Centre End and he impressed also, first having Khanna LBW for 7 and then removing Mani 2 balls later, a big top edge well held by keeper Clelland for a 3rd catch.
With Crescent now 106 for 9, Geoff Morrison was brought on and after a filthy wide, he did rather better with his 2nd ball a sharp off break turning markedly to hit the off stump, Gibson shouldering arms as Crescent were all out 107.
It was a superb all round performance from FPs with the ball and in the field with all chances taken. The bowling figures for FPs were Poosappadi 5-1-25-1, Knudson 7-1-19-2, Thomson 5-1-33-2, Gubbala 4-0-17-1, Anand 3-0-11-0, Stuart 3-1-8-1, Wilkie 2-0-5-2, Morrison 0.1-0-1-1.
With Crescent bouncing back so impressively on Sunday to beat Bon Accord, the title race is wide open with 5 genuine contenders well placed at the half way stage. FPs are happy to be top at this point but will need to keep playing like they did on Saturday to have a chance of defending their crown, with many twists still to play out. FPs face in form Mannofield next in what is certain to be a very tough game.
Man of the Match
Not often will you hit a blistering century like Karan Anand did and not win man of the match, but he is edged out by Eddie Steinson for a composed 76 which laid the platform for the late pyrotechnics
There are many to choose from, many of Karan Anand’s big hits, Wilkie’s straight six or Prash’s delivery to remove Toor, but Gary Stuart takes the honours for a perfect delivery which would have not been out of place at a much higher level. It was great to see he still has it.