A simply stunning bowling effort secured the Leinster Lightning an unlikely but most welcome 4-run victory over the North West Warriors at Bready.
Peter Chase’s final over of 2 for 6 set the seal on a low-scoring but no less thrilling victory for the men in blue.
It all seemed so unlikely a few hours earlier when the Warriors won the toss and inserted their visitors on a pitch that nipped around a little early on.
Despite Balbirnie (17) and Delany (9) putting on 27 in the first three overs, the Lightning innings was never able to get into full flow.
Craig Young picked up Balbirnie’s wicket in the 4th over and then two wickets in Graham Kennedy’s first over shifted momentum firmly Warriors direction at 42/3 off 7.
Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals throughout the innings and when Kennedy finished his quota by taking the wicket of Tucker, he had 3-15 and Lightning were 6 down.
The young Ballyspallen man even prevented Leinster getting past the psychological three-figure mark when he took an outstanding catch at short fine leg to dismiss Richardson and end the Lightning innings on 99.
As the reply got underway the home side came out looking to score quickly. Stuart Thompson (20) was successful in hitting boundaries before picking out Anderson at cover. His opening partner Rankin had been starved of the strike and fell immediately.
McBrine And Porterfield put on 50 for the third wicket but didn’t do so at a rapid rate and when McBrine lofted to Dockrell at mid-on and then Dockrell himself bowled Porterfield, the Warriors were 73/4 and teetering.
The required run rate had hovered around a run a ball for most of the Warriors innings with two new batsmen at the crease, the scoreboard pressure was building.
In the 18th over, Dockrell picked up the wicket of McClintock when he clipped to Terry at short mid-wicket and the very next ball, Singh was alert to run out Gillespie. The Warriors were 6 down but more importantly they were running out of deliveries.
Dockrell ended his spell with figures of 3-15 but it fell to Tyrone Kane and Peter Chase to bowl the final overs. Seven runs off Kane left the runs required in double figures, but the pressure fell on Chase at the death.
A boundary from Graham Kennedy could have put Chase off as they were just 5 runs needed off three deliveries. His response? A well-pitched dot-ball bouncer followed by two perfect wicket-taking yorkers.
With that, the Lightning had restricted the Warriors to 95 for 8 off their 20 overs and against the odds won by 4 runs to extend their lead at the top of the Hanley Energy IP20 table.
Speaking after the game, Chase was happy his skills stood up to the pressure. “I’ve been working hard on skills at the death with Rob Cassell so it’s nice it’s paid off.
“Those two yorkers were pretty good, if I do say so, probably the best two I’ve bowled to be honest. There’s always a margin of error, that’s quite small, when you’re bowling them, but I backed myself.”
This Lightning side have got themselves out of some tight positions to win matches recently and Chase isn’t surprised. “We were obviously very disappointed (at half-time), but this team has a habit of pulling games back out of nowhere,” he said.
“There’s a never say die attitude in the team. Once we had some sort of runs on the board we can defend anything.”
Despite the Lightning winning ugly these last few weeks, Chase is looking forward to the day it all clicks. “In the games so far, we probably haven’t had 100% in all aspects of the game. We’re always searching for that perfect game and waiting for the game where everything comes off and we’ll see what happens then.”
InterProvincial 20-Over Trophy, North West Warriors v Leinster Lightning
At Bready CC;
Leinster Lightning 99 a/o 19.1 overs (Andrew Balbirnie 17; Graham Kennedy 3-15, Stuart Thompson 2-20)
North West Warriors 95/8 20 overs (William Porterfield 38; George Dockrell 3-15, Eddie Richardson 2-18)
Leinster Lightning win by 4 runs