ABERDEENSHIRE are emerging as potential Eastern Premier challengers after completing their third win in four starts at the expense of Stewarts Melville.

The Mannofield men, who last won the title four years ago, proved far too strong for the league’s newcomers in the north-east sunshine, cruising home by eight wickets.

Unusually, a wicket fell off the first delivery of each innings but, whereas the visitors’ loss of Hayden Sweet to Callum Mackaness sparked a procession of StewMel batsmen back to the pavilion, ‘Shire shrugged-off Kenny Reid’s early departure.

Kiwi Mackaness ran riot with five wickets, including visiting professional Shaylen Pillay for a duck, as the capital side capitulated to 103 all out with eleven overs unused.

While Pillay raised hopes of a recovery by bowling Reid for a golden duck, Ian Kirk quickly took control to play the innings of the match, stroking ten boundaries on the way to 63no as ‘Shire raced to victory in 22.3 overs to leave StewMel still looking for their first win.

Grange and Heriot’s remain the teams to beat after both extended their winning starts to the season.

At Gilvenbank Grange overpowered Glenrothes by nine wickets thanks to a brilliant all-round display from former Scotland U19 star Nick Farrar who first claimed 4-34 as the Fifers, without Safyaan Sharif, who was on duty for Derbyshire, could manage just 139.

Man-of-the-match Farrar was also in great nick with the bat, leading the reply with a hard-hitting 82no.
Meanwhile Hayes van der Berg and Peter Ross both hit centuries as champions Heriot’s also maintained their 100% record with a 26-run victory over Forfarshire at Forthill.

Callum Dutia claimed 4-47 and Joe Kinghorn-Gray 3-43 as RH Corstorphine dismissed Watsonians for 173 at Barnton.

That paved the way for Corstorphine to claim their second win of the campaign and leave ‘Sonians looking for their first, former Pakistan international Hammad Azam leading the way with 63 while Sam Flett hit a breezy 45.

Meanwhile, Arbroath helped erase the memory of the defeat that cost them the title on the final day of last season by going back to Carlton and winning by four wickets.

Craig Ramsay took 4-47 as Carlton were dismissed for 232 before Sri Lankan Shanuka Vithanawasam’s 59 spearheaded the chase.

WESTERN Premier leaders Ferguslie proved just too strong for newly-promoted Stirling in an entertaining clash at New Williamfield.

Batting first the Paisley side posted 213-9 with useful contributions from Gregor Preston-Jones (37), Riyaad Henry (39) and Omer Hussain (27) while R Hewage took 3-30 for the hosts.

In reply Stirling were still in contention at 162-6 but the run-out of Gavin Anderson for 45 proved pivotal as Ferguslie turned the screw to win by 40 runs, skipper Jamey Carruthers bagging 3-23.

Elsewhere, Ross Lyons again emphasised his value to Uddingston with a match-winning knock in his team’s narrow success at Poloc.

Chasing 182 for victory, the visitors were in trouble on 42-4 before Lyons showed his class with a wonderfully composed 62 from 98 balls.

The all-rounder, who has forced his way back into the Scotland squad, hit four maximums as well as stroking three boundaries while Gavin Bradley (21) and Niall MacLeod (20) offered the support required to edge a two-wicket win.

Earlier Mo Awais was Uddy’s top bowler with 4-19 while Jurie Snyman top-scored with 37 for Poloc.

Clydesdale dug deep to beat Dumfries at Nunholm, youngster Zain Ashraf’s half-century helping the Titwood men to a two-wicket success after they had been staring at probable defeat.

Chasing 153 after Scott Beveridge had top-scored with 42 for the hosts, the Titwood team were in deep trouble on 52-6 but teenager Ashraf held his nerve with a crucial 52.

West of Scotland maintained their promising start to the season with a six-wicket win at Ayr while champions Prestwick won comfortably at Greenock.