WESTERN Premier champions Uddingston yesterday recovered from their opening- day defeat at Ayr to get their title defence on track with victory over West of Scotland.

A wonderful knock of 97 by Sammy Zia carried the Bothwell club to 211-9 in overcast conditions at Hamilton Crescent. The total looked about par on a lush outfield which often frustrated batsmen who were not always fully rewarded for their shots.

However, it proved well above par against a West side who, despite a bright start, never posed a serious threat to the champions. It looked promising for the hosts when Stuart Murray pulled the first delivery of their reply from Matt McEwan to the mid-wicket boundary.

Loading article content

However, the visitors hit back with two quickfire strikes, young seamer Dennis Eyles clean bowling Lucas Farndale for a single before the bowler enjoyed a bit of good fortune in dismissing Murray whose edge was deflected by keeper Bryan Clarke to McEwan at slip. Ed Clark helped Jon Newell carry out partial repairs in a stand of 30 before he was caught by Clarke off Zia.

At 59-3 in the 21st over, West were already 10 runs behind the D/L par score and they fell further off the pace as the visiting bowlers tightened their grip. It was partially loosened when Newell twice hoisted Zia back over his head for boundaries.

However, when Newell departed for 28, it was left to skipper John Blain to carry the fight and, despite a battling 24, the former Scotland man ran out of partners as West subsided to 131 all out.

Earlier, Uddingston recovered from the loss of Amir Gul, caught by Farndale off Gavin Smith, in the first over as Zia took control.

The former UAE player was helped by Gautham Rai who made 24 in a 53-run stand for the second wicket and then briefly overshadowed by McEwan who scored 36 of the 48 runs they put on together.

McEwan, though, having plundered three sixes and two fours from just 29 balls, was run out at the non-striker's end when Dave McNulty flung himself full length to deflect Zia's straight drive on to the stumps. The New Zealander's departure, though, left the stage for Zia to dominate the rest of the Uddingston innings. He went on to face 154 deliveries and looked set for a century especially when his ninth boundary, originally signalled as byes, carried him to 97 with three balls remaining.

However, his hopes of three figures were dashed when he spooned Smith's next delivery to cover where Ross Brown took the catch.

Richie Berrington marked his Clydesdale debut with a half-century as the Titwood club proved too strong for East Kilbride. Berrington stroked six boundaries and a six in his 51 while Con de Lange's 53 came at a run-a-ball before Muhammad Awais' 21-ball 40 propelled Dale to 237-8.

None of the East Kilbride batsmen came to terms with a Dale attack for whom de Lange claimed four wickets and Zeeshan Bashir three.

In the Eastern Premier, Grange continued their impressive early season form with a commanding seven-wicket win over struggling Carlton at Raeburn Place. Having won the toss and elected to field, Grange were in the wickets early on when Gregor Maiden and Raj Routray removed Kyle Macpherson and Fraser Watts. However, it was George Munsey, better known for his batting prowess, who was the executioner-in-chief as Carlton slumped to a miserable 77 all out. His four victims included the visitors' top two scorers, Preston Mommsen, caught by Gordon Goudie for 15, and Gordon Drummond whom he clean bowled for 24.

Carlton managed to survive for less than 36 overs while Munsey's figures of 4-20 were backed by Andrew Brock's 2-22.

In reply, Grange took just 15 overs to knock off the runs, Arun Pillai finishing unbeaten on 29.

At Mannofield, Chris Venske hit his second century of the campaign as Aberdeenshire maintained their challenge with victory over bottom-of-the-table SMRH. Matty Parker was another centurion as Forfarshire defeated champions Arbroath at Forthill.