Forres St Lawrence Cricket Club see off Elgin and Highland to progress in North of Scotland T20 Cup
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Grant Park in Forres played host to an entertaining qualifying round of the North of Scotland T20 Cup on Saturday.
Home club Forres St Lawrence took on neighbours Elgin and Highland in a three-way tussle to see who progressed to the finals.
First off at 10.30 were hosts Forres against a much-boosted Elgin.
Elgin opted to bat first but Forres were quick out of the trap, removing opener Woodall for 13, caught at cover by Aziz off Merricks and next over Smart was caught behind by Roberts off Farr.
Opener Quilliam could only watch as Dave Fairgrieve was yorked by Merricks in the following over, leaving Elgin on 27 for 3 off 5 overs.
Quilliam ploughed on despite losing partners (Rankin well caught at slip by Al Farr off Ellwood, Harper run out for 10 and McWilliam bowled by Ali) and guided his side over the hundred mark to give Elgin a total to bowl at.
Quilliam finally fell for 69, caught behind off Farr in his second spell. Ellwood claimed the last wicket with Elgin closing on 124 for 8 off their 20 overs.
The Forres reply faltered in the first over, Al Farr caught off Chalmers for 2 and in his next over Chalmers despatched Du Toit for 5, bowled.
Derek Ross had opened for Forres and now partnered Gus Farr with only 12 on the board. They steadied things until in the seventh over, Ross was caught off Chalmers for 14.
Javed Aziz now joined Farr and this pair guided Forres over the winning line with nearly two overs to spare through good running. Farr was unbeaten on 49, Aziz 37.
The second game was Elgin against Highland, who batted first, scoring 93 and despite the rain interruption Elgin passed the total in the 14th over which meant that Forres needed to beat Highland to make it to the finals
Once again Forres were asked to bowl first and Merricks didn’t waste the new ball, removing Ali in the first over to a good high catch at slip by Al Farr.
Patel and J Paul worked well together, setting up a 55-run partnership but they took their time, using half of their overs. When J Paul was bowled by Asim Ali for 27 they quickly lost Patel too, for 16, leaving Highland on 61 for 2 after 12.
Ramesh showed his skills as he kept the runs flowing but none of his team-mates could stay with him. Aziz showed his skills with the ball, taking 4 for 19 as Forres kept Highland to 117 off their 20 overs. Ramesh finished with an unbeaten 35.
Fraser Merricks and Al Farr opened for Forres, looking settled until Farr was bowled by Veejay for 14. Du Toit followed just two balls later whilst Merricks was the third victim of the Highland bowler, caught on 11.
Now Asim Ali and Gus Farr shared a partnership but were finding runs hard to get. Despite this they accumulated until Ali was bowled by Usman for 8. Aziz came in at 51 for 4 off 11, kept the score board ticking over but when he sacrificed his wicket in the push for runs it was touch and go if Forres would pull this out of the bag.
Youngster Matthew Watkin joined Farr, and when he powered the ball over the boundary for a big six, Forres took on new heart.
A total of 73 on the board after 16 overs left a lot of work to do, 84 after 17 certainly helped, then 93 after 18. Over 19 brought 11 runs but still so much work to do in the last over, with 104 on the board.
In the final over Farr smashed the first ball to the boundary but when Watkin was run out for 11, Forres still needed 6 to tie, 7 to win.
Ellwood ran two fast, risky twos, pressuring the Highland fielders who juggled the ball. Two off the final ball would be enough, so Farr spanked the ball over the deep square leg boundary for six, leaving no doubt.
It had been an excellent finish, full of tension for both sides and a cracking display from batsman Farr, 55 not out as well as bowler Farrukh. The finals are in July, venue to be arranged.
This weekend Forres travel to Fort Augustus on Saturday with a trip to Dunfermline on Sunday in the Scottish Challenge Cup.