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Cydesdale prevail in the sunshine as reigning champions are left in the shade

THE credentials of Cydesdale as potential Western Union CS Premier champions were emphatically demonstrated yesterday as the Titwood club brushed aside current holders Uddingston in the Bothwell sunshine.

The visitors would be the first to acknowledge that Uddingston were without more than half their first-choice team, including a trio of county-based stars, but Dale's dominance was impressive nonetheless.

Their bowlers first made use of helpful conditions to stifle the home batsmen before their own top order made light of their task in an eight-wicket romp.

Indeed, chasing a modest 133 for victory, the issue was all but settled within just two overs of the reply by which time Paddy Barbour and Majid Haq had plundered 31 runs from some wayward deliveries from Matt McEwan and Dennis Eyles.

McEwan, the New Zealand professional, was particularly errant, his first over including two full tosses and a beamer which raced for five runs after forcing evasive action from a startled batsman. Barbour and Haq had taken the total to 54-0 from six overs before Sammy Zia, replacing McEwan at the pavilion end, bowled Barbour for 27 with his first delivery.

Haq also succumbed to a brute of a ball from Scott McKenzie before Clydesdale had added to their total. However, that was as good as it got for Uddingston and, while the brakes were briefly applied to the scoring rate, Richie Berrington and Con de Lange quickly re-established control. The pair knocked off the remaining runs to carry their team to victory with almost 30 overs to spare.

Saltires star Berrington, returning to form and fitness after a lengthy ankle injury, stroked a couple of trademark blows to the boundary en route to a 42-ball 35, though he was ultimately overshadowed by de Lange.

The South African finished unbeaten on 44 from just 38 deliveries, striking four boundaries and the game's only maximum.

Uddingston's batting effort on a greenish track had been in sharp contrast as they struggled to even maintain a scoring rate of two runs an over. Two early run outs - one a reminder of Berrington's speed and athleticism in the field - did nothing to help the Villagers' cause nor did the introduction of spin-twins Haq and de Lange. The Scotland man at one stage sent down seven consecutive maidens and was rewarded with 3-19 from 15 overs as the Uddingston tail-enders succumbed in the pursuit of much-needed runs.

Arguably, though, de Lange played just as important a role, his beautifully flighted left-armers dismissing the home side's two top scorers, Gavin Bradley for 37 and Zia (23).

Elsewhere, John Blain claimed six wickets for West of Scotland yet still came out on the losing side as Dumfries posted 201 at Nunholm before dismissing Blain's team for just 70.

Eastern Premier champions Arbroath showed their mettle with a thrilling five-run win over in-form Aberdeenshire at Lochlands. Hamish Bartlett top-scored with 67 while skipper Marc Petrie made 41 but a total of 205-8 left the game in the balance.

The Dons had their chances, with several batsmen making starts, but none could go on and play the required match-winning innings as Arbroath's bowlers built pressure and were duly rewarded, with Shire's Graeme Tomlinson stranded on 43 not out at the end.

Forfarshire saw their fine start to the season stall at People's Park where they could only make 132 against Stoneywood-Dyce who edged home by two wickets despite Liam Sweeney's five wickets.

Former Saltires batsman Steve Knox hit a six to seal a thrilling derby win for Heriot's over Grange at Goldenacre. It had looked like a formality for the hosts after they dismissed their rivals for just 125 but Heriot's had lost nine wickets and were in grave danger until Knox opened his shoulders.

In an even lower-scoring game SMRH were dismissed for just 68 at Inverleith before Dewald Nel's 48 not out secured a nine-wicket win for Watsonians, while Falkland recovered from their recent stutter with a 13-run win over Carlton at Grange Loan.

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