HELENSBURGH played host to the first of four matches on a tour of Scotland by the Royal Indian cricket team.

The Royal Indian side, skippered by Pradeep Godbole, played the first of four matches against the Scottish branch of the Forty Club, reputed to be the largest ‘wandering’ cricket club in the world, at Ardencaple.

The tourists were invited to bat first in typical west of Scotland weather, with a persistent light drizzle and a fresh breeze to keep away the midges, and made a steady start, adapting gradually to a wicket which was considerably slower than the ones they are used to playing on, before John Cameron (West of Scotland) bowled their two opening batsmen with the score on 26.

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The tourists reached 72 before losing three wickets for just two runs, and after a short rain relay they completed their 35 overs with a total of 135 runs, K. Salgaonkar top scoring on 25.

After an excellent tea provided by Lou Mundie, with strawberries, scones and shortbread alongside onion bhajis and pakora, former Helensburgh captain Colin Neill, an ex-president of Cricket Scotland and manager of the Forty Club in Scotland, opened the batting alongside Brendan Hillyard of Weirs CC.

After an encouraging start, a questionable umpiring decision saw Neill dismissed for 15 before a series of quick wickets fell to leave the Forty Club in a difficult position at 35 for three.

The Helensburgh CC pair of Ian Chambers and Rajita Waruna put together a good partnership to bring the score to 66 before Chambers was out for 13; some excellent bowling by the tourists sparked another flurry of wickets, and Waruna fell for 33 to leave the Forty Club at 84 for seven.

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Determined batting from Stirling County’s Kevin Ferrie brought the home side close to the 52 runs they needed to win the game, but in the end the tourists won by just six runs, with Duduskar and Choudhry bowling extremely well, taking four wickets apiece.

The highlight of an exchange of gifts afterwards was the presentation to Alex Steele of the tourists’ ‘man of the match’ award – Alex is a former Scottish internationalist with an amazing love of the game, and still keeps wicket at the sprightly age of 78.

After the presentations both teams enjoyed a selection of fantastic curries prepared by Annayas to end a fantastic day’s cricket.

The tourists followed up their match in Helensburgh with further tour fixtures against the Forty Club at Glasgow Accies, Stenhousemuir and Uddingston.

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Helensburgh Cricket Club is always looking for new members. Training is on a Tuesday and Thursday evening at 6.30pm, and junior training is on a Friday evening.