A DASHING half-century from Ranald Wilkie was the highlight of a grand team performance as Selkirk’s 2nd XI defeated Melrose by 74 runs on Sunday.
The Souters are currently top of the Border Reserve League, albeit having only played two games.
Wilkie benefited from the platform established by Selkirk’s top order. The visitors had chosen to bat first, and Thomas Penman and Darren Fenton were untroubled as they put on 28 for the first wicket before the young wicket-keeper misjudged the length while pulling and was bowled.
Though Iain Gardener struggled against Furqan’s spin, Fenton was especially severe on anything short on his way to a fine 45 before he missed a straight delivery and was lbw.
Gordon Branston and Wilkie then added 75 for the fourth wicket, ensuring that Selkirk would post a challenging total, especially since, thanks to a late start and the persistent threat of further rain, the captains agreed to reduce the match to a 35 overs a side contest.
Branston made good use of the shovel sweep while Wilkie was also harsh on bowling that too often drifted too far towards the leg-stump, regularly clubbing the ball through midwicket on his way to a maiden half-century. He thumped eight fours in all, four of them off consecutive deliveries from Stuart McKay.
A flurry of wickets in the final two overs did nothing to take the edge off the visitors batting performance and Selkirk took the field knowing that they had a more than defensible total.
Even so, in Furqan and Prabarkar, Melrose had batsmen capable of swinging the match their way and so Selkirk needed to bowl with discipline and patience to prevail. Fortunately Lee Oliver and Blair Amos delivered and after 10 overs Melrose had amassed just 20 runs, putting the home side well behind the required run-rate.
Neither Amos nor Oliver had much luck, though Wilkie took a good catch at mid-on to dismiss Furqan, while Ryan Pritchard held on to a sharp chance at gully to send Ward back to the pavilion.
It was John Graham, however, who made the vital breakthrough. Prabarkar was beaten in the flight and consequently mistimed his drive, sending the ball soaring towards Mitchell Branston at mid-off. The youngster, just 13 years old, held his nerve and the catch in equal measure and Selkirk now had an iron-grip on the game.
Wilkie took another fine catch at deep midwicket as Graham followed his five wickets at St Boswells with three more at Melrose. Gardiner also bowled nicely and could have been better rewarded for his efforts.
Though Alatair Irvine-Robertson swiped lustily for Melrose it was all in vain and in service of a cause that was clearly lost, the required run-rate having climbed to more than 10 an over.
Next test: a home fixture against Gala this Sunday.