The Lightning Bolts came through a sensational match against the Emerging Knights at North County to win by just three runs in the first of their two-match series on Sunday.
It was local man Andrew Sheridan who proved the hero in taking the final wicket as his delivery clipped Alex Haggen’s top edge, then his helmet and looped up to Mark Donegan to take the catch behind the stumps.
There was a hint of Ashes ’05 about it all as the Emerging Knights lower order almost secured what had looked like an unlikely victory when the Bolts had them 109/6 inside 20 overs.
There was little sign and the drama ahead when the Bolts batted first.
After Jamie Grassi had fallen cheaply, Balbriggan’s Conor Fletcher (57) and Mark Donegan (33) put on 82 for the second wicket.
It was lovely partnership with shots stroked to all parts and back to back boundaries in the 14th brought up Fletcher’s 50.
Nearly all the middle order got starts for the Bolts. Stephen Doheny and Oliver Gunning, at 4 and 5, may be disappointed to have got out for 29 to the bowling of Rhys Malone. Similarly, Rooney-Murphy who departed for a third 29 of the innings to the bowling of Alex Haggen (3-43).
Captain Nic Pretorius kept momentum in the innings with his 58 but he top-edged a Haggen delivery to Burton. When Haggen bowled James Newland to close the Bolts innings, the total was 288.
With Donegan and Fletcher together early on and Pretorius and Doheny batting smoothly in the middle overs, a total of 320/330 had looked on at one point, but 289 was the challenging target for the Emerging Knights.
Two brilliant catches had the Knights 41/2 after 11 overs of the chase. First Fletcher diving forward at mid-off held on to a Barnes delivery before Doheny pulled off a stunning grab at first slip to dismiss Magowan.
Mark Adair came in at four for the Knights and began the counterattack as only he can. In the 15th a 6 over long-off and a straight four brought the Knights to 78/2 and back up with the run rate.
At the other end however, Andrew Sheridan removed Malone and Rooney-Murphy (4-73) had a day out, removing 3 in quick succession.
Mark Adair stood firm, but the Bolts had reduced the Knights to 109/6 and were well on top.
In came Sam Gordon (53) and in partnership with Adair they dragged the Knights back into the game. They had added 81 to the score when Adair flat-batted a Newland delivery straight to Pretorius and the Knights were eight down.
Then it was Alex Haggen’s turn to swing from the hip together with Gordon. They had added 48 and Pretorius was ringing the bowling changes when Gordon was given out, caught behind, to a Sheridan ball in the 37th over.
The Knights were way ahead of the required run rate but running out of wickets.
When Gunning picked up McCord’s wicket for just 5, the Knights were 247/9 and the Bolts needed just 1 more wicket. The Knights meanwhile needed 42 runs.
And oh, how close they came to chasing down those 42 runs.
In the 46th over a back cut four from Haggen brought him to 53 and the Knights within 4 of victory. Allison at the other end had contributed 1 run to their 38-run partnership.
Up stepped Sheridan to deliver the decisive ball for the Bolts and secure a three-run victory.
It was an outstanding match today and the best part of all is that they do it all again tomorrow from 10.45am in Phoenix Cricket Club.
Lightning Bolts v Emerging Knights 50-Over Match 1, 22 July 2018
Lightning Bolts 288 all out, 49.2 overs (N Pretorius 58, C Fletcher 57; JJ Walsh 3-25)
Emerging Knights 285 all out, 45.3 overs (M Adair 88, S Gordon 53, A Haggen 53; A Sheridan 3-69)
Lightning Bolts win by 3 runs