Mahesh Challa came to FPs rescue as he struck 44 batting at number 9 to lift FPs to an improbable 202 for 9. Harry Mapplebck made a very patient 28 to hold things together after FPs had faltered to 52 for 5 and 101 for 6 with only Rob Swiergon (37) making a contribution in the top order. Challa batting at 9, rode his luck but tried to block the good balls and attacked anything in his zone hitting 3 huge sixes. He then nipped in with a key wicket as FPs bowled out a determined Ellon for 170 despite a poor day in the field where many chances went down. Top bowlers were Callum Herd (2/29) and Karan Anand (3/38), for the visitors Rich Greenfield took an excellent 5 for.
FPs again won the toss, Swiergon still believing his tossing blazer has mystical powers and chose to bat first. It was a somewhat changed line-up with Nattrass promoted from 2s to open the batting, Elia Gubbala making a 1st start of the season with Fraser Proud unavailable and Chris Clelland in 2s. Morrison took the gloves as FPs lined up Keith, Nattrass, Morrison (w), Swiergon, Gubbala, Anand, Mapplebeck, Herd, Challa, Prash and Thomson.
FPs were soon in trouble as Nattrass departed to Doss’ 1st ball a full toss skewed to Fraser for just 1. Full tosses were the order of the day and Keith chipped one from Greenfield straight to Addy for 24 as FP slipped to 30 for 2. Morrison then played all round a Greenfield outswinger to be bowled for 3 as FPs top order issues continued. Gubbala looked in decent nick, but he had made just 6 when he was bowled by Doss. Leading run scorer Karan Anand strolled out earlier than he would have liked and struck a few trademark blows and survived a dropped catch at deep square leg. He however could not take advantage and drove a Patterson half volley straight to Sandham at cover who took a smart catch, FPs wilting at 52 for 5.
Skipper Swiergon was joined by Harry Mapplbeck and they settled into a good partnership, taking no risks and defending solidly. Swiergon went after any loose bowling, but both blocked Jon Barrett keenly who was bowling a great spell going for just 16 in his 10 overs. In fact FPs were looking to get on top when Swiergon played back to be bowled by Paterson for 37, FPs 101 for 6.
New man Herd then added a useful 16, including the shot of the day, an immaculate straight drive for 4. He and the patient Mapplebeck added 30 before Herd was magnificently caught one handed at cover by Veldsman for Greenfield’s 3rd wicket. At 131 for 7, FPs appeared to be sliding to defeat, but the diminutive Mahesh Challa had other ideas.
He was soon underway with a huge six over square leg. As a man known for big hitting, he batted with great care in this innings, either blocking or swinging for the fences. He had some moments of luck as a few swings landed in open space, but anything remotely short was dispatched with scarcely believably power. At the other end Mapplebeck was settling in for the afternoon or possibly the weekend with a superbly mature knock, only occasionally unfurling his dreaded reverse sweep.
Mahesh swung harder and harder as his innings gained momentum and it was only the 4th last ball of the innings that he was finally defeated, bowled by Greenfield for a match defining 44. Mapplebeck confirmed this was not a completely new version of himself as he attempted to ramp the last ball over the keeper was bowled for a vital 28 as FPs closed on 202 for 9.
FPs were really feeling pleased with themselves, 9 balls into the 2nd innings, when a good Prash away swinger was nicked to Morrison at the wicket by Veldsman, who didn’t even wait for a decision and walked off. Davies and Barrett though batted very nicely and did not look in any real trouble, until Challa prised out Davies with an inswinger to have him LBW for 15.
Proctor never looked secure against Herd, looking to give him the charge and he soon chipped a catch, which the alert Herd did well to claim on the dive, the batsman out for 15 and Ellon 68 for 3. Soon after FPs had what looked the key wicket as Barrett cut Herd straight to Swiergon at point to depart for a classy 25.
If FPs thought they had the game secured, then Ellon had other ideas as Wolridge-Gordon and Greenfield combined to add 59 aided by some poor fielding by FPs as a string of catches went down, Swiergon, Keith, Mapplebeck and Thomson among those contributing to the fine jar for their efforts.
As is so often the case, it took the wily John Thomson to get the breakthrough as having been unlucky earlier in the over when Morrison was convinced he had smartly stumped Greenfield, the veteran seamer produced a good inswinger to castle Greenfield for an enterprising 31.
Soon after FPs had complete control as Wolridge-Gordon had a stroke of incredibly bad luck, run out at the non strikers end via a deflection off Prash to fall for 26. The batsmen taking the dismissal with very good grace.
Anand then nipped in to remove Addy caught by Prash at mid wicket for 8 and bowling Paterson for 14. The returning Mapplebeck had Doss plumb LBW with a yorker for 1 and it was fitting that Challa claimed the final catch at 3rd man as Anand removed Sandham for 10 as Ellon were all out 170.
Overall it was another win for FPs but everyone is aware that the catching will need to improve and the top order batting needs to function better if FPs are to be title contenders. Also it is important to add that this game was played in an excellent spirit with sensible appealing and decisions being made fairly and Ellon were a credit to the game on Saturday. Next up is a bowl off against Cults in the cup on Thursday night following 2 postponements and the FPs face Cults again this time in a league match at Rubislaw.
8848 Man of the Match
Mahesh Challa – a game changing innings
8848 Champagne Moment
Callum Herd’s straight drive – a textbook offering.
Thanks again to Giles Gardiner for the excellent photos that can viewed at the following link https://www.flickr.com/gp/gillesgardner/84C9AR