The fourth round of fixtures in the 2022 season of the IBI Corporate Finance Cricket Leinster Premier League with four excellent games set to be fought out.
MERRION VS BALBRIGGAN
The current table-toppers, Balbriggan face a trip to Anglesea Road to play against Merrion in their first away fixture of the league season. With a bowling unit that has performed excellently so far this season, they will be hoping that their seam trio of Andrew Darroch, Ryan Hadley and Kashif Ali can pick up where they’ve left off and continue to bowl good areas and challenge Merrion’s batters. With the bat for the ‘Brigg, Greg Ford, Chris de Freitas and Connor Fletcher are the three men they will be looking at to take advantage of any loose bowling, with Anglesea Road proving to be a fruitful batting wicket for players who have given themselves time to get into the game so far this season.
The home side will be without their key batter in Stephen Doheny this weekend, and as such will be looking at Jack Carty, Swapnil Modgil and Mike Lewis to provide the bulk of their runs in his absence, with the hole left by Doheny possibly exacerbated after his excellent match-winning knock last weekend. With the ball, Muhmmad Sinan will be aiming to provide a good start with the new ball, to set up Jack Carty’s medium pace and the left-arm spin of Amish Sidhu and Tom Stanton to squeeze against Balbriggan’s aggressive middle-order players.
The way which Chris de Freitas has played in the last number of weeks has been vital to Balbriggan, and with both of Merrion’s main spin-bowling weapons turning the ball into the left-handed batter, they will need to be very much on the top of their game to keep the aggressive number 3 under wraps, Tom Stanton provides slightly more variation than Sidhu, and as a result will be the bowler to trouble de Freitas the most.
KEY BATTLE: Tom Stanton vs Chris de Freitas
PEMBROKE VS PHOENIX
Up next, Pembroke host Phoenix and will no doubt be out to avenge their defeat in the final game of the senior league cup group stages. The home side have some spectacularly in-form players in the shape of Theo Lawson and JJ Garth, but it’s Poonish Mehta’s batting who has been trumping all in the past few weeks, culminating with his excellent 144* in last weekend’s victory over The Hills. With the ball, Mehta’s bowling has been excellent in the past few weeks, he and Piyush Sharma will be the main seamers in the side, whilst Paul Lawson, Gavin Hoey and Donncha Tucker will provide the further spin options to skipper Theo Lawson. Greg Hollins again deputises for Lorcan Tucker behind the stumps as he and Barry McCarthy both miss the game on international duty.
Their visitors will also be feeling the effects of international call-ups, as George Dockrell misses the game for Phoenix. In his absence the spin bowling of Dev Ranolia and Will Bennett takes on a greater significance in support of Ben White, whilst their seam options will be led by Oliver Hald and Theo Dempsey with support from Conor Sheil and Tyrone Kane in a team which remains littered with bowling options. The return of Nicolaas Pretorius behind the stumps has been a boost to the side with his batting slotting in nicely at the top of the order, Hald and Dempsey have added some significant power hitting to the lower-middle order whilst Bennett has been the man whom they have built most of their fruitful batting innings’ around.
In the absence of Dockrell, Ben White’s 10 overs are even more crucial than usual to the Phoenix side, and given the form of Poonish Mehta, he is likely to have a big job on his hands to attempt to keep Pembroke’s scoring rate down throughout the middle overs of their batting innings.
KEY BATTLE: Poonish Mehta vs Ben White
CLONTARF VS MALAHIDE
Malahide visit Castle Avenue hoping to continue a good week for the club in that ground after their Women’s 1st team victory there on Thursday evening. The away side are returning to something resembling their full strength line-up, with James Newland back in the side whilst both Frost brothers also feature in this weekend’s line-up, with Matt Ford also coming back to fitness, whilst they have also picked a third seamer in the side this week in the shape of Mohit Sane. Ryan Hackney has been in terrific form of late, almost immovable at times, in particular last weekend when he carried his bat throughout an all out innings. The return of Ford and Ali Frost in particular should bolster the away side’s batting unit and give them a chance of putting together a competitive batting innings this weekend. With the ball, Newland, Ali Frost, Cameron Shoebridge and David O’Halloran will be the seamers complimenting their aforementioned three-pronged spin attack of Ford, Frost and Sane.
Clontarf meanwhile will get to welcome back the form player in the country to their side in David Delany, he returns from Ireland A duty off the back of a century in the second innings there which has only enhanced the club form which he has been putting together with both bat and ball so far this season. PJ Moor and Fionn Hand will be two other crucial players with the bat in the side for Clontarf, whilst young gloveman Aaron McGeehan has shown good form since he entered the 1st XI, and will be important at the top of the order if getting another go. With the ball, Ruan Cronje’s bowling has been fantastic in recent weeks, and he’s complemented nicely by three further spin options in the side now with David Vincent, Paul Ryan and Cillian McDonnell all performing well this season. In the seam bowling stocks, Mick Granger supports fellow speedsters Hand and Delany in what is a very well balanced attack all-round.
Returning from an excellent week, David Delany’s form has been key to Clontarf throughout this season so far, that is likely not to change and his opening spell of bowling to Malahide’s in-form batter Ryan Hackney will be vital for how Clontarf get on in this game, if Hackney isn’t in the runs Malahide have struggled so far this season, and a cheap dismissal is exactly what ‘Tarf will be angling for here.
KEY BATTLE: David Delany vs Ryan Hackney
YMCA VS THE HILLS
The Hills visit Claremont Road in a decent run of form, with their good start in the league halted last weekend by a steam-rolling Pembroke batting performance. They have however got several batters in excellent form themselves, Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin and Dylan Blignaut have been very consistent in recent weeks, whilst Mark Donegan and Andy Kavanagh are both beginning to piece together some nice innings’ as well. With the ball Blignaut’s opening spells have been fiery, full of good movement through the air at decent pace, Ashley Bain returns to support him this week, with Matthew Weldon and Tómas Rooney-Murphy rounding off the seam attack. Jonathan Tall returns to lead the spinners, with Athar Farooqi also in the side again having bowled brilliantly last weekend.
YMCA meanwhile come into this game off the back of a chastening couple of results since their last league victory, as they fell foul to Pembroke in last weekend’s all-Ireland game, before being beaten by Terenure in the Alan Murray Cup on Tuesday evening. Tom Anders and Mitchell Thompson both come into the side compared with Tuesday’s team, with plenty of options in both the spin and seam department available to the side. Mikey O’Reilly is the key man at the top of the innings with the ball, whilst the spin of Thompson, Jamie Forbes and Aaron Bailey will likely rotate throughout the middle overs alongside Rory Anders’ medium pace. With the bat, Jack and Tim Tector will occupy spots in the top three alongside Thompson, with some strength in the middle order provided by the Anders brothers and Bailey.
The opening spell of Blignaut will give The Hills a chance to get stuck right into YMCA’s relatively top heavy batting line-up, if he can knock over Jack Tector early doors and get a look into the Sandymount side’s middle order, it’ll give them a real chance of restricting their hosts to a very low score.
KEY BATTLE: Jack Tector vs Dylan Blignaut