In some ways it was typical early-season fare - freezing cold, a soggy, slow and treacherous wicket, and batting and fielding on both sides which might generously be attributed to a lack of preparation due to the dismal weather. What eventually unfolded however was really quite extraordinary, chasing a paltry target of 74 for victory Westquarter collapsed from 58-3 to 68 all out, thanks to an astonishing spell of off-spin bowling from the brilliant Rahul Patel who, having taken a little time to find his rhythm, found rhythm and turn and control enough to collect six wickets for one run in four overs, finishing with 6-18.
Both sides were missing key players for various reasons, and having lost the toss Leith were inevitably put in to bat. Wickets soon began to tumble, only Patel, Sutcliffe and new signing from Chennai Super Kings Selvin Sagayam made it into double figures. Williams also deserving mention for the admirable literalness of his adherence to instructions to bat for twenty overs, blocking and prodding with manful application for exactly that amount of time until he celebrated the arrival of the twenty-first over with a loose swipe across the line and headed back to the pavilion. Mention also to Middleton and newly-appointed vice-captain Lawson who eked out a last wicket stand of seven which in the context of the game was to prove utterly decisive.
Having enjoyed their fill of Dorothy Fraser's speciality Cheese and Carrot sandwiches and a few hot Bhajis to combat the chill the players headed back out knowing that on this wicket and with Westquarter under strength there may yet be hope if danger man Hamad Mumtaz could be neutralised. Hamad proved initially more dangerous though to his own teammate, generously giving Umar Aslam lbw to Thekkumparath despite a big stride forward. Cammy Lawson then struck twice to leave Westquarter 5-3, but with Hamad still to come no chickens were being counted. A partnership of 52 between Salik and Victor Farikh then looked like it might see the Falkirk men home without calling on their star batsman as chances came and went, but cometh the hour and cometh Rahul!
Patel bowled Salik and got Choudhry lbw on the third consecutive appeal, Lawson then got a full one through Farikh's defence and it was game on! Mumtaz finally arrived at the wicket but was soon glaring uncomprehendingly back down the pitch as Patel spun one in between bat and pad, all of a sudden it was Stevie Sutton and three youngsters with nine still needed, fielders round the bat scenting victory and the pressure mounting, and the pressure told as Patel finished the job in some style.
A thrilling victory then and one testament to perseverance and a fine team spirit. Fabulous to get a win in the circumstances but there needs to be a marked improvement in the level of batting and catching if Leith are to be competitive in Division 2 this season. Plenty to work on on the training ground on Thursday then, and we look forward to a trip to Meggetland on Saturday to face Boroughmuir.
Onwards and upwards!!!