North Sea Pro 50 Over Series 2014
Highlanders seal North-Sea double on wet weekend
Bertus de Jong
The top-table North Sea pro-50 showdown between the Highlanders and the Seafarers in Edinburgh on Monday ended in a damp squib as rain arrived towards the end of the Seafarers innings to put a halt to proceedings and see the hosts retain their four point lead and claim a second title.
Having bested the Seafarers in a hard-fought T20 on Sunday to finish the Pro-20 series with a perfect six-in-six record, the Highlanders again looked dominant with the ball Monday before the weather intervened. After Stephan Myburgh took 11 runs off the first over, Aman Bailwal struck back by trapping James Gruijters LBW for a first-ball duck. Myburgh struck a quick 30 before Bailwal accounted for him too, and followed it up by having Josh Lenssen caught behind to leave the Seafarers on 36-3. Thereafter only Wesley Barresi offered much resistance, smashing a defiant 77 off 62 balls as wickets tumbled around him. Barresi's was the 9th and, in the event, final wicket to fall with the score on 143, with the rain arriving shortly after. With Barresi back in the hutch the Highlanders will have fancied their chances, given the circumstances - the Seafarers needing a bonus-point win to overtake them, but doubtless the visitors were the more put-out at being denied a shot at the title. Barresi had been the stand-out performer with the bat for the Seafarers on Sunday as well as the visitors chased the Highlander's total of 150, but his quickfire 56 was not enough in the end as the Dutch fell 9 runs short.
The Hurricanes had a better time of it in Deventer against the Reivers, narrowly winning a low-scoring T20 before the Reivers had their revenge in the rain affected 50-over tie on Monday. In sweltering conditions with the ball stubbornly refusing to come onto the bat, the visitors struggled to 37-4 before Mahesh Hans came into the attack. The young off-spinner dismissed Sharif for a first-ball duck, and after Saqib Zulfiqar dismissed eventual top-scorer Farid for 20, Hans returned to run through the tail, finishing with figures of 4-16 as the Reivers collapsed to 73 all out. The Hurricanes made tough work of the total however, as Ian Wardlaw dismissed the top three with just 20 on the board. Niall Alexander added to the host's troubles, bagging three successive wickets of his own to reduce the Hurricanes to 44-6. Usman Malik's 15 from 31 – the best score for the Hurricanes – got his team to within ten runs of victory before being bowled by Sharif, and with Paul van Meekeren becoming Wardlaw's fourth victim five runs later it fell to last pair Vinoo Tewarie and Hans to get the Hurricanes over the line. Hans was to strike the final blow with a lofted and near-catchable drive, but his luck was in and the hosts sneaked over the line.
The Reivers struck back the following day however, Safyaan Sharif making the hosts rue their decision to bat first by claiming three quick wickets before the Hurricanes had posted 20. With runs hard to come by and frustration bringing wickets, it was a well-tempered innings from Rehmet Zulfiqar that prevented a rout. Building partnerships with Mudassar Bukhari and younger brother Sikander, Zulfiqar got the hosts to 99 before chopping Moneeb Iqbal onto his stumps for 24. Leon Turmaine and Mahesh Hans made their guests wait a little longer – adding another 13 runs for the last wicket – but not long enough to make it to Lunch. The Reiver's pre-break innings lasted just 2.4 overs however, with rain on the horizon Bukhari's dismissal of Young seemed a good time to head back to the pavilion. Sure enough the first drops began to fall as the players sat down to lunch, and the weather swiftly turned cataclysmic as the heavens opened over het Schootsveld. A quite spectacular thunderstorm was thankfully as brief as it was furious, though the sheer quantity of water deposited meant the break was extended until 4pm. The Sun had returned by the time play resumed with the Reivers chasing a D/L adjusted 92 for the win. Bukhari was determined to make a game of it, claiming another three wickets in swift succession to reduce the visitors to 25-5, and when Hans returned to dismiss Bereridge with the score on just 39 the Hurricanes looked to have the upper hand. With the front-line bowlers bowled out and the pitch flattening however, Sharif and Iqbal began to hit out, an ever accelerating 53 run partnership seeing them home.
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