Delighted Mazars Grange cricket skipper Neil McCallum hailed the efforts of all-rounder Arun Pillai as a reshuffled batting order helped underwrite a vital Eastern Premiership win over leaders and reigning champions Arbroath United at Raeburn Place.
A regular opener this season and a consistent top scorer, Pillai was, nevertheless, moved down to No. 8.
“That was to allow Ryan Flannigan and George Munsey to re-form a partnership that has done well for us in the past as our overall batting has been struggling a bit,” said McCallum. However, he quickly added: “Our lower order did really well – especially Arun.”
Pillai was unbeaten on 38 at the end and it was his 57-run partnership with Andrew Brock (42) that really put Grange in the hunt.
Even then, the drama was only beginning. With 25 needed from the last seven overs, the players came off for rain with Grange narrowly ahead on the Duckworth/Lewis method used to calculate interrupted matches.
The shower passed quickly but, when play resumed, the electric scoreboard temporarily “froze” forcing Grange to hurriedly assemble a manual version.
At this stage, Pillai and Chris Sole were progressing nicely but there was controversy when the latter was caught off a full toss that seemed at least waist- high deeming it a no-ball.
However, no review system exists in domestic cricket – obviously – and Sole took his dismissal with good grace allowing youngster Matt Angellini to take the crease with a handful of runs required.
Angellini held his nerve superbly allowing man of the moment Pillai to smack the winning boundary.
McCallum, whose team climb to fourth making them the top Edinburgh side in the table, added: “That was pretty nerve-wracking and well played our lower order batsmen.
“It was a good toss to win and, although Raj Routray had Brendan Ford caught at second slip off the opening delivery of the match, Arbroath rebuilt to reach 200.”
With wickets in hand, the visitors really pushed on over the last ten overs but their 202 total always seemed reachable on a placid wicket.
“We lost wickets at wrong times but Arun Pillai has been excellent all season and really got the guys home.
“Arun has been great for us and Matt Angellini going in at No. 10 was just a reflection on the depth we had.
“We thought we could change things by going back to the guys who opened last year and we did get a decent start.
“I felt good when making 34 but a lot really came down to Arun,” he said of a colleague who contributed seven overs of spin bowling for just 37 runs and is often seen filling in behind the stumps.
In the absence of regular Simon Smith, that job fell to George Munsey, who avoided conceding a single bye which proved another important factor in what was only Grange’s fourth league win of the season.
Carlton’s mini revival came to an abrupt end when they lost by eight wickets to Aberdeenshire at Mannofield.
A centurion last week, Hamish Gardiner lasted just six balls and was soon followed back into the pavilion by Preston Mommsen as the Capital side had to rely on two other Scotland caps for the bulk of their modest 158 all out in just over 32 overs.
Opener Ally Evans hung around for 32 and Fraser Watts was unbeaten on 40 off 46 balls.
With the country’s top-scoring batsman Chris Venske quickly into his stride and eventually out on 42, the Dons had little difficulty reaching the target.
At Inverleith, SMRH’s inability to contain Scotland all-rounder Sayaaf Sharif proved their undoing against Falkland.
Sharif batted just over three hours for a majestic 124 before becoming one of Craig MacKellar’s three victims.
By then, the damage was done with Falkland posting 218-8.
Once again pro Brad Moses top scored for SMRH with 47 but the last seven wickets fell for just 25 runs as SMRH were dismissed for 144, having promised much more at one stage.
At Forthill, Heriot’s resumed winning ways with an eight-wicket win over Forfarshire in a rain-affected contest.
Chasing a Duckworth/Lewis par score of 165, the Goldenacre outfit enjoyed runs throughout the order with Peter Ross making an unbeaten 53 followed by Steve Knox (37), David Ross (31) and captain Cam Farrell on 30 not out.
Watsonians won the toss and elected to bat at Stoneywood Dyce but were soon in trouble with four batsman back in the pavilion for just 23.
James Easton hung around for 41, backed up by Andy Hislop (22) and Dewald Nel (20).
But 137 was unlikely to be sufficient and despite another three wickets for skipper Ewan Chalmers the home side came through with six wickets down.
• Mazars Grange will fly the flag for East cricket in a July 20 Scottish Cup semi-final after a seven-wicket win over SMRH at Raeburn Place earned them a trip to East Kilbride.
The other semi sees Ferguslie play Clydesdale, who defeated Watsonians by ten wickets.
A decision by Mazars Grange to restore George Munsey and Ryan Flannigan to the top of the batting order was vindicated when they put on 47 in pursuit of an SMRH total of 171 and Munsey went on to make 89 not out.
Flannigan’s contribution was 25 while Gregor Maiden enjoyed an outing higher up the order to make 27 with young Tom Sole (10 not out) helping seal the victory. Earlier, Gordon Goudie hit form by taking 4-37.
• Carlton’s Hamish Gardiner has been drafted in for Scotland’s three ODIs against the Netherlands in Glasgow this week.