The ‘Loc were on the road in their 2022 league opener today, making the sojourn north to Larbert to take on Stenhousemuir at “The Tryst”. Batting first, openers Hunnain Sohail and Mohammad Chaudhry saw off the new ball, and would add 50 in a watchful start in chilly, damp conditions. However the pair wouldn’t add anything beyond this as Chaudhry departed for 27 (54). This brought Sufian Ali to the crease, but he’d not trouble the scorer, being trapped LBW by Grant. In at four was Akshay Hudar, and, though he’d get off the mark, he, like Ali, didn’t hang around very long, and departed courtesy of a catch by Laing off Pinnamaneni for just 3. 50 without loss was suddenly 55 for 3, and Sohail was with his fourth partner inside a couple of overs. And, the solid start provided by him and Chaudhry suddenly seemed but a distant memory. So, far from “kicking on” after seeing off the new ball, it was “digging in” time. Osama Baig (7) hung around a while, batting at five, but, he too, would be unable to “get in”, being dismissed having added just 16 in partnership with Sohail. 71 for 4. Aasim Khurshid, on debut for the ‘Loc, was in at six, and he and Sohail did manage to add 25 before being separated, 96 for 5 coming about when Khurshid (16) was bowled by Kadyan. Enter batting partner number six for Sohail, Inderjit Dulai. Dulai would, at least, be the batter who didn’t get out before Sohail, the ‘Loc opener’s innings eventually seeing him dismissed, stumped by Rossouw, for 37 (104). He’ll perhaps be disappointed not to be able to have made a really telling contribution after having grafted for so long, but, equally, his knock was important in the side eventually posting a score that would be potentially defendable. 98 for 6 then.
After Sohail’s departure the tail, if it didn’t wag, at least moved, Andrew Mallichan (20), and Waseem Ahmed (16*) steering the other batters to 131 all out in the penultimate over. 132 to win then, for the home side.
Stenhousemuir’s run-chase started as the ‘Loc‘s innings had, i.e. there would be no early breakthrough. However the host’s run-rate was better. 40 was on the ‘board before an in-road was made, Sohail bowling opener Kadyan for 9. Dennico Hollis (16) and Vaughan-Davies (32) then added 17 before Ali separated the duo. 57 for 2. If Stennie hadn’t quite been stopped in their tracks [Ed’: slightly damp, greasy, tracks by this point!], they’d at least decelerated, and the ‘Loc sniffed a chance. And that chance developed a stench when, with the total having progressed to 72, Ali then took three more wickets in quick succession. 72 for 2 becoming 79 for 5. Game. On. Home pro’ Rossouw (10) was gone, and the ‘Loc were in to the meat of the middle and lower order. However [Ed’: there’s so often a “however” isn’t there!] this wouldn’t be the start of what would be a house of cards. Rather, Overseas Amateur Streicher (25*) and Grant (27*) would steady the home ship, and see their side home with almost nineteen overs to spare. The ‘Loc just couldn’t break their partnership, and, in the end, the scorecard would suggest a more straight-forward win for the Stenhousemuir than 79 for 5 chasing 132 to win, with the pro’ out, posited.
So an opening day defeat, but some positives. The openers digging in early in dreich conditions, on an April pitch, is one. The side not capitulating when being skittled for under 100 was a possibility, is another. And, similarly, getting themselves into the match again in the second innings, and giving Stennie the jitters, at 79 for 5, was a third. Ali’s figures of 8.3-2-34-4 were more than decent too, Ahmed-Raza Hanif showed his control, returning figures of 8-1-24-0 in tricky conditions for gripping the damp ball, and Sohail added 6-1-19-1 to his watchful knock at the top of the order. Throw in only conceding 6 runs in wides, and there was enough in parts of the second innings to encourage. The batting however, ….. [Scorecard]