Two giants of Leinster cricket at this level clash in the 2020 LHK Insurance Middle Cup final. In 2019, Merrion 3 finished 24th in the league pyramid, and YMCA finished 25th,. There is nothing between the teams, and this should be a cracker. YMCA 3 have a long trophy laden history, winning the Middle Cup on two previous occasions - 1996 and 2012.
The Middle Cup has traditionally been a longer form compeition, but in the T20 world, YMCA 3 have been a little less successful, winning the YMCA Salver in 1974 and 1975. In total, Merrion have won the Middle Cup on nine previous occasions, although it was Merrion 4 who last won the competition for the club. In an identical way to YMCA, Merrion 3's T20 success has been rarer, winning the Salver in 1992 and 2013. To add to the excitement, the head to head between the teams over the last decade is five wins each, with one match tied.
YMCA 3 - key players
YMCA's nail-biting win over Wexford Wanderers last week was like many a tense T20 match. Lots of players making contributions that may not have won the game on their own, but contributed towards the victory. Vipul Kashyap's 45 was the top score, and also took him past 200 runs for the season with 202 at 28.86, Sonny Rosha has also been a solid presence with both bat and ball with 163 at 27.17 and 11 wickets at 13.55. Daniel Swift took three crucial wickets last week to total 11 wickets at an impressive 8.91 and Naufal Ahmed Amanullah has 10 wickets at 10.9
Merrion 3 - key players
Three players stand out for Merrion 3. But caution should always accompany this type of previews. Last week's semi final victory over Clontarf was a team effort, with no one taking more than two wickets, and no one scoring more than 24. Sainath Reddy is the leading scorer with 222 runs at 111, but he didn't even get to bat last week! Vidit Sukhramani is leading wicket taker with 11 wickets at 13.91 and Raghav Khurana has taken 10 at 12.40. Merrion's strength has not really been in the stars though, it has been in the strength in depth. Six players have passed 30 at least once, and seven have taken two wickets in an innings at least once.
Of the fourteen finalists this weekend, Merrion 3 are the only ones to have the benefit of home advantage. They are strong at home, but Anglesea Road isn't quite a fortress. They have won seven of their last ten, and fourteen of the last twenty. In the Middle Cup, their record is better.
In seventeen matches going back to 2011, they have only lost twice - to Mullingar 1, and crucially to YMCA 3 in the 2018 semi final. That match saw Merrion dismissed for 83 with Mikey O'Reilly taking 3-10. Chris Minch top scored with 45* as YM won by 9 wickets. The ground definitely holds no fears for YM - of their last five visits, YMCA 3 have won four, although the most recent match saw a 1 wicket win for Merrion 3 in August 2019. The average first inning score in Anglesea Road this year has been 118. The side chasing has won seven times, and the side batting first has won eight times.