Recent Aberdeenshire Cup finals have held the attention of the spectators all the way to their conclusion, and the final between Gordonians and Knight Riders on Sunday was no different. Knight Riders only joined Grade 4 in 2010, a year before Gordonians last won the Aberdeenshire Cup in 2011 under the captaincy of Jason Stark, and included pace bowler Prasanth Malireddy in their ranks.

Knight Riders won the toss and in traditional Grades style invited Gordonians to bat. This brought quick rewards as the inswing bowling of Tharun George rearranged the stumps of 3 of the top 4 Gordos batters to reduce them to 19 for 3. Ravi Mahajan looked solid as Gordos took time to assess the damage and it was slow going as they made it to the drinks break on 59 for 3. It’s an old cricketing cliche, but when you look at a scorecard and add 2 to the wickets column, you can envisage how things could change, and sure enough in over 22, Nikhil Chaudhari took 2 wickets to leave Gordos deep in the mire at 64 for 5. At 79 for 6 Ashfaq Bashir joined Mahajan and the running between the wickets improved as the scoreboard started ticking over. All the shuttling between the wickets was clearly giving Mahajan cramp related issues and having reached his 50, he eventually had to retire whilst on 70, having brought an air of respectability to the Gordos score. Bashir was out for 37 as Gordos totalled 177 for 8 off their 40 overs. George ended up with 3 wickets for 35 which included 12 wides as he struggled with the introduction of leg side wides for the 2023 season.

The Knight Riders innings followed a similar pattern to that set by the Gordos batters as Sheetal Mehta gave umpire Terry Curran 3 of the easiest lbw decisions he would have had all season as Knight Riders slumped to 40 for 4. Somu Kumarasamy stuck in at the other end performing the exact same role that Mahajan had done for Gordos. New batter Gautam Bhatia took a couple of overs to settle in and then launched the first 6 of the match as he led an adventurous Knight Riders comeback to take them to 83 for 4 at the drinks break. Bhatia fell for 39 with the score on 121 for 5 as Bashir had a little juggle with a lofted drive down to long off. From there Gordos strangled the run scoring and when Kumarasamy walked for an lbw appeal by Chamila Perera, Knight Riders were 141 for 7 after 33 overs. Another 4 tight overs and Knight Riders were on 156 for 7 with 22 required off 3 overs. A boundary from Prashant Malireddy off the 1st ball of over 38 and a little bit of pressure moved back to the Gordos bowlers, but it was still 14 to win off the final 2 overs, or 3 wickets if they could break through the Malireddy/Uday Reddy partnership. A boundary from Reddy followed by 2 more from Malireddy and it was all over off the last ball of the 39th over, prompting a pitch invasion by the faster members of the Knight Riders team and celebrations from the sidelines from the rest of the impressive Knight Riders support. Malireddy was 23 not out off 22 balls and Reddy 13 not out.

The umpires Terry Curran and Russell Brown, who had an excellent game, gave the player of the match award to Somu Kumarasamy. Retiring P&J cricket reporter Jack Nixon presented the Aberdeenshire Cup to a very happy Knight Riders skipper Siva Palianappan.

Thanks are due to the scorers, those who took such excellent photos, as always to Aberdeenshire for hosting so well, and to Calum Howard for his hard work in providing an excellent pitch and outfield. 

Umpires Russell Brown and Terry Curran photobombed by local umpire Mike Philip who wasn’t quite ready for the photo!

North East Scotland Cricket SCIO Chair Brian Lynas runs through the list of thanks as Jack Nixon readies himself to present the Aberdeenshire Cup.

Knight Riders captain Siva Palaniappan surrounded by silverware as Jack Nixon makes the cup presentation.

The victorious Knight Riders team with the original Aberdeenshire Cup and the replica that doesn’t stay locked up at Mannofield.