North County vs Co Galway
Just as North County looked like they were returning to top form in this competition, they were dealt with a cruel blow by losing out to Balbriggan midweek in a rearranged fixture, having looked on top against the same opponent in the abandoned game the week prior.
North County had thrashed Terenure and looked well in the ascendancy against Balbriggan when rain interevend last Saturday. However, they could not back that performance up and fell to a five wicket defeat, with batting once again being the Achilles heel.
There was a spirited effort with the ball but they couldn’t prevent a tight win for Balbriggan, which somewhat crushes their chances of advancing to the latter stages of this competition. They have a good opportunity this weekend to get back on the winning thread and to perhaps build a good ending to their up and down season.
Co Galway suffered a defeat to Cork County last week and it was a game that followed a very similar path to those they have previously played. A decent effort in the field was not quite backed up with the bat in the run chase, and they ended up finding themselves well short in the end.
There was enough really good effort with the ball for Galway, and it was the wickets of Danish Ali that took the headlines on this occasion. His four wicket haul led the way for the side, while there was able support for Viswanath, who also took two wickets. Iliff Sumit, who has been one of the most miserly bowlers of the division, was also in fine form again with his 10 over spell at the top of the innings yielding 1-17.
With the bat, there were some more promising signs and there was a first half-century for the side in this competition, courtesy of Sukpal Singh who struck a super 56 in the lower middle order. There were also some useful runs from Viswanath, who completed a good all-round display. Galway will have to have more runs coming from the batting order if they are to get their first win of the season.
KEY BATTLE: Andrew Sheridan vs Subramanya Ramnathpur
Balbriggan vs Terenure
Balbriggan come into this tie on top of the Buakit Championship after a tight and nail biting victory over North County midweek, when getting over the line with just two balls to spare.
This was a huge win for this side, as not only was it a crucial victory over a close rival but also a very much needed win for their own form and momentum coming into this big game. Terenure will put it up to them this weekend, and the result of this match could have a major say on the outlook of the final table.
Greg Ford has stepped into the captaincy in recent weeks, and has taken that roll on to great effect and he provided a game winning knock in the run chase, alongside an excellent all-round effort from Andrew Darroch who was miserly with the ball in hand. This could be an opportunity for Balbriggan to register another home victory.
Terenure have had a good record in this competition and are in a good position having won three wins from five games. They have probably shocked a few teams with how well they have played with a really strong all-round side, with good options with both bat and ball.
They haven’t managed to get a full game completed for a few weeks now, and only have two games left - which they will have to win both if they were to keep in contention for the Final on the 12th September. They could take a big scalp if they were to beat Balbriggan in this fixture and put themselves in a commanding position in this division.
Zubair Khan, who was so close to winning the All-Ireland T20 Cup Final last weekend with Cork Harlequins, has been really impressive with the new ball in hand throughout this competition and seems to be keeping improving with more and more cricket under his belt. Opening the bowling with the more experienced Mark Thomas, is making the side very hard to face and is getting them early wickets on a regular basis. They will be hoping to cause a minor upset here.
KEY BATTLE: Greg Ford vs Zubair Khan
Rush vs North Kildare
Rush have had an up and down season so far and will want to finish off with a flourish if possible. They have been very inconsistent and it has been down to their in and out form with the bat in hand that has led to that lack of consistency.
Against Railway Union last week, they had that opposition in early trouble at 19-3 when the rain intervened, with Allan Eastwood taking two wickets and Daniel Coffey taking one. They have a strong bowling line-up and will always be in the hunt in games due to the ability to take constant wickets. It is more about piecing these good bowling efforts alongside good efforts with the bat that has been the main trouble.
The main contributor of runs for Rush this season has been Neil Rock, but he will be missing for the remainder of the season now as he has been called up into the Irish setup, which will leave a gaping hole in that top order that will need to be filled. A lot of pressure will be mounted onto the shoulders of Nathan McGuire, the Irish u19 international to lead the way for the side.
North Kildare will have been frustrated by the lack of cricket they have got to play in recent weeks, as they have only had three completed games thus far and remain unbeaten with two wins and a tie.
That tie was against Railway Union and came about in the most exciting of circumstances as they managed to defend two runs in the final over to keep the game to a tie. This was an excellent effort in the field and was led from the front by their opening pairing of Wasif Ali and Muzamil Sherzad. They are going to cause a lot of problems for opposition players.
North Kildare will be looking to continue their impressive season so far and will be hoping to add another win to their season.
KEY BATTLE: Nathan McGuire vs Muzamil Sherzad
Cork County vs Railway Union
Cork County have quietly been making inroads in this table and now stand with a record of two wins from four games. They have also been unbeaten at home and must be taken very seriously when playing at the Mardyke.
They produced a good all-round display last week to beat Co Galway, where runs from Benjamin Marris at the top of the order helped them get to a good score. There were also runs from Byron McDonough and quick late order runs from Alexander Gasper, who not for the first time this year has contributed crucial runs when his side has needed it.
McDonough produced an excellent all-round display by taking two wickets in the run chase, while there were typically impressive spells of bowling from Pollard and Saddique. This guided them to their second consecutive comprehensive victory and they will be eyeing up a third and to move further up this league table.
Railway have had a good year so far in this competition and sit right near the top of the table, however they will have been really disappointed to not get over the line against North Kildare when a win was seemingly there for the taking.
They have been aided considerably in the last few weeks by Kevin O’Brien. His calmness and excellence in the middle order has provided them with crucial runs when they have needed them most, and now with his absence for the T20 series versus Zimbabwe, Railway will have to find the necessary runs from other players on the side.
Liam McCarthy has been brilliant with both bat and ball for the Sandymount side and his rise to prominence has been one that the club will be delighted about, alongside the efforts of youngster Phillipe Le Roux - who has been in good touch for the Irish 19s of late. This away fixture will test this Railway side though and it could be a very good fixture.
KEY BATTLE: Rudolph Pollard vs Kenny Carroll