Leinster Lightning today secured yet another IP50 title with a 4 wicket victory over the North West Warriors in Eglinton – this is 8 in a row in the competition, a record reading played 36, won 27, lost 2, and 7 no results in that period, which includes no fewer than 6 unbeaten campaigns.
Andy Balbirnie was the star with the bat, as his 85* was the backbone of the Lightning’s successful chase which saw them cut down the Warrior’s target of 232 with 7 balls to spare.
After winning the toss and electing to bowl first, Lightning started positively, Barry McCarthy removing Stephen Doheny for 11 in the 4th over – this brought skipper Andy McBrine to the crease to join William Porterfield, and the pair went about the biggest partnership of the morning, putting on 61 for the 2nd wicket before the former Ireland skipper was caught sharply by current Ireland captain Balbirnie off Simi Singh.
David O’Halloran then struck twice, removing Thompson for 8, caught at mid-on by Kevin O’Brien, before taking the edge of Shane Getkate’s bat for Lorcan Tucker to complete the job behind the stumps, before Peter Chase’s short ball ended a spell of belligerence from Graham Kennedy for 18, seeing the CIYMS clubman caught at deep square leg by Singh.
Graham Hume fell cheaply to Dockrell, before William McClintock failed to make the most of getting a life on 0, making just 11 before being caught by Tucker off a Josh Little bouncer, when McBrine was out to O’Halloran thanks to an excellent Peter Chase catch, the Malahide youngster followed up by bowling Ross Allen for 1 for his 4th wicket of the day.
Nathan McGuire and Craig Young had other ideas than to simply roll over, and took the score from 181 to 231 for the final wicket, with McGuire finishing on a well-played 53* from just 46 balls. Ensuring a tricky task for the run chase.
Lightning however have a record of not having ever lost to the Warriors in the IP50 competition, and they were in no mood to let that slip today.
An early wobble saw O’Brien (4) and Jack Tector (11) dismissed by Hume and Young respectively, at two down, a partnership of 29 looked to be promising until a mix-up led to Lorcan Tucker being sent back by Andy Balbirnie searching for a second run, and failing to make his ground before McBrine intercepted the throw and removed the bails, dismissed for 19.
Captain George Dockrell joined Balbirnie at the crease, and immediately set about his work, scoring busily and being positive throughout, the pair batted together for 19 overs, adding 123 runs in the process, and putting the Lightning in the box seat.
Drives and pulls were a real feature of the Lightning skipper’s knock, and having driven his way through 50, he went for one pull too many on 67 off the bowling of Craig Young, finding Getkate on the leg-side boundary. His personal IP50 series coming to an end with 364 runs at an average of just over 121 – an excellent return for a man in fantastic form.
Simi Singh fell for just 2, plumb in front to Graham Kennedy and leaving the visitors needing 62 from just under 10 overs. Jamie Grassi joined Balbirnie at the crease, and added some impetus, dominating their 35 run partnership with a run-a-ball 21 to keep up with the rate.
When the Phoenix man was run out, Barry McCarthy joined his Pembroke club-mate at the crease, the pair took just 16 balls to score a further 27 runs, and see the Lightning run out 4 wicket victors.
After the game, coach Nigel Jones was quick to praise the contributions of the whole squad towards this success: "It's a very pleasing win, especially given the restructuring of squads for this season. We've worked hard for this, while also being able to blood a couple of younger players into our environment too. Both David O'Halloran and Jamie Grassi have added plenty to the squad, and their performances have been pleasing"
Never a moment's rest in interprovincial cricket, Jones finished with a glance to the remainder of the season saying; "We'll enjoy this success now and regroup and refocus ahead of the IP20 competition beginning next month"
Leinster Lightning, 235/7 (A Balbirnie 85*, G Dockrell 67, C Young 2/43)
North West Warriors, 231 all out (A McBrine 78, D O'Halloran 4/45)
by 4 wickets
Leinster Lightning is sponsored by LHW Financial Planning whose logo is on the new playing kit - the support of LHW Financial Planning is hugely appreciated by players, management and fans alike.