GREENOCK gained an important win with a seven-wicket victory over Drumpellier at Coatbridge on Saturday. The win lifted the Glenpark side off bottom spot in the CSL Premier Division West and, as Stirling County lost heavily to McCrea West of Scotland, the chance of escaping relegation was boosted significantly.
Drumpellier were inserted by Greenock skipper Ryan Begley and, with just nine runs on the board, lost their in-form opener Asad Mohammed when he was leg before wicket to Richie Berrington in the seventh over. A second wicket went down on 34 when Nicky Pyne was caught by Berrington off the bowling of Greg McDougall.
A third wicket partnership of 83 from Rashid Yousaf and Graeme McLaren steadied the innings for the Langloan team, Greenock made an important breakthrough when both batsmen were out within five runs of each other in consecutive overs. First Yousaf was caught by Berrington off the bowling of Greenock pro Mpho Sekhoto for 41, then McLaren was run out, also for 41, after a mix-up with new batsman Hussain.
At 122 for four in the 38th over, Drumpellier needed to take the game to Greenock in order to set a challenging total for the Glenpark side to chase.
A total of 73 runs were scored from the last 12 overs, which equates to more or less a run a ball, with Stephen Allison the mainstay of this part of the innings, scoring 42 not out as the Langloan side finished their 50 overs on 195 for the loss of seven wickets.
Richie Berrington showed his international class, bowling 10 overs for just 19 runs and picking up two wickets. Mpho Sekhoto also collected two wickets for 39 runs from 10 overs. Greg McDougall was the other wicket-taker and there were two run-outs.
Set 196 to win, Greenock needed to provide a disciplined batting performance in order to overtake the Drumpellier total and take the points. Openers Shailesh Prabhu and Alex Baum set about the task confidently and had 36 runs on the board in the ninth over when Baum was stumped by Allison having scored 21 runs.
A season's best partnership then developed between Prabhu and Greenock's South African professional Mpho Sekhoto and the Drumpellier total was gradually reeled in. The crucial win needed by the Glenparkers came more and more into sight as both players dominated the home attack.
Prabhu in particular was displaying some fine shot-making and regularly scoring boundaries while Sekhoto was content to pick off singles and accumulated runs with sensible shots into gaps in the field. The partnership was eventually broken in the 42nd over, having added 129 runs for the second wicket, when Sekhoto was caught by Sabri for 46 with the Greenock score on 165.
That left 31 runs needed for victory with just slightly more than seven overs remaining.
Greenock's international cricketer Richie Berrington came to the crease and quickly showed his intent by scoring 14 runs in just three overs. But with the winning line in sight, he attempted to hit Yousaf for a maximum and was well caught on the boundary by Joshua Allison.
Shailesh Prabhu meanwhile remained the rock of the Greenock innings and he, along with skipper Ryan Begley, saw the side safely overtake the Drumps total in the 49th over. Prabhu was not out 79 having scored 10 boundaries in his innings and Begley was unbeaten on 11.
Saturday's victory will have given the Greenock team and its supporters tremendous encouragement, and with just three league games remaining, one more win could well see the local team safe. However, as the league table shows, the relegation battle looks likely to be a straight fight between Greenock and Stirling County and the match between the two teams on Saturday 25 August at New Williamfield could well be decisive.