The Leinster Lightning threatened to mark the centenary of Cricket Leinster in style, falling agonisingly short and losing to Middlesex by five runs in the Smartwater Summer Smash on Friday evening.
In front of a record domestic crowd for a provincial game, Gareth Delany’s half-century and three wickets apiece from Tyrone Kane and Peter Chase brought the Lightning ever so close to a famous victory.
After winning the toss and opting to bowl, the Lightning quickly had Middlesex on the back foot at 37 for 3.
Nick Gubbins (75) proved the mainstay of the innings however as he dominated big partnerships with Eskinazi (23) and Robson (22) that pushed the score up towards 200.
The Lightning bowlers never stopped however, and got their reward as once Gubbins fell, they took the last five wickets for just eight runs as Middlesex left two balls of their innings to spare.
Tyrone Kane and Peter Chase took 3-29 and 3-30 respectively, while Josh Little pitched in with two wickets on his home ground.
The Lightning were faced with a target of 183 for victory and Gareth Delany (51) and Kevin O’Brien (21) set about the task with relish. Delany in particular was in majestic form.
Delany scored three boundaries and three maximums as the openers put on 66 for the first wicket. Both Simi Singh (24) and Lorcan Tucker (12) looked to take the attack to the Middlesex bowlers but fell immediately after hitting huge sixes.
In the end it came down to the big hitting all rounders Tyrone Kane (26*) and Fionn Hand (11*) to try and take the Lightning home.
They gave it all they had, including an audacious scoop from Hand off Steven Finn from the very first ball he faced which flew for 6 over the keeper, but ultimately, they were left just a little too much to do.
The Leinster Lightning were defeated by five runs on the pitch on Friday night, but the Summer Smash was always about more than just a game of cricket. It was about showing how far the Lightning have come and how far Cricket Leinster has come in celebrating the centenary.
Both showed up very well at Pembroke on the longest day of the year.
Smartwater Summer Smash, Leinster Lightning v Middlesex
At Pembroke Cricket Club;
Middlesex 182 a/o 19.4/20 overs (N Gubbins 75; T Kane 3-29, P Chase 3-30, J Little 2-33)
Leinster Lightning 177/7 20 overs (G Delany 51, T Kane 26*; S Robson 3-31)
Middlesex win by 5 runs