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Priestley Cup is no distraction for Undercliffe
The Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup final is not only a carrot for established JCT600 Bradford League First Division clubs.
It is also a lure for Undercliffe, the only remaining Second Division side in the last eight who are hosting the decider on Sunday, August 24.
Undercliffe skipper Michael Kelsey said: “It is a massive incentive having the final at our ground.
“We have taken a lot of confidence from beating a side like Morley in the last round and we are not facing Pudsey Congs in the third round on Sunday, June 15 thinking that we are just making the numbers up.
“The match is at our place and we are going into it believing we can win.”
However, despite their exploits in the blue-riband knockout competition, Kelsey has not lost sight of Undercliffe’s chief focus.
“The main aim is promotion,” said the Idle and Pudsey Congs player.
Undercliffe are second in the table on 82 points, three points behind Keighley, who they meet at Lawkholme Lane on Sunday.
First up for the men from Intake Road, who have a game in hand on the leaders, are improving Great Horton at home on Saturday.
Kelsey said: “Mohammed Altaf, who is their skipper, was with us last season, and they have made some good signings.
“They have also improved their changing rooms and are in better shape generally than last year.
“But we beat them in the first round of the Priestley Cup at their place, so the aim is to get 20 points and then move on to face Keighley.”
The key man in Undercliffe’s storming start to the season – they have won four of their six matches – has been overseas player Nawaz Sardar.
He hit 89 on the opening day of the season when Undercliffe topped 300 at home to Brighouse – Richard Robinson does a really great job with the ground, according to Kelsey – and then bagged 5-33 in the 110-run victory.
Sardar followed up with 4-16 against Windhill, when Undercliffe were rescued by a match-winning sixth-wicket stand, 4-27 and 49 in the three-wicket success over Spen Victoria and 114 as the unbeaten run of Hartshead Moor came to an end.
And just to emphasise his form with the bat, Sardar scored an unbeaten 119 in that cup win over Morley.
Kelsey said: “He seems to have so much time, and his good form has come on the back of a successful winter in Pakistan.”
Undercliffe are also blessed with a mean opening bowling attack in Sardar and Zeehan Qasim.
He explained: “We haven’t been taking loads of early wickets but opponents haven’t had many runs on the board after 15 or 20 overs and have then been getting themselves out.
“Our keeper stands up to Nawaz, who bowls line and length – mainly away-swingers but he has a big in-swinger – while Zeeshan, who has been a great signing and is a bit quicker, bowls in-swingers but also has one that goes on with the arm.”
Keighley start an interesting weekend at home to third-placed Baildon – the only team to defeat Undercliffe so far this season.
East Bierley and Pudsey Congs have won nine First Division titles and 12 Priestley Cups between them in the past 23 years but find themselves propping up the First Division table.
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