An InterProvincial T20 record partnership between Simi Singh and Andrew Balbirnie, combined with five wickets Tyrone Kane, have the Lightning on the brink of retaining the IP20 Trophy after Day 1 of the Festival Weekend at Pembroke CC.
Munster Reds sprung a surprise in Game 1, defeating the North West Warriors, meaning a bonus point victory for the Lightning against the Knights would secure the title.
At the toss George Dockrell chose to bat first. Gareth Delany scoring a typically rapid 19 off 10 balls.
Balbirnie was then joined by Simi Singh and the pair put on 132 for the 2 nd wicket beating the previous best second wicket partnership in the InterProvincial series by four runs.
Their 132 came off exactly nine overs as they smashed the Knights bowling to all parts. Singh hit 69 off 36 (5x4s, 4x6s) before he fell in the 16 th over.
Balbirnie (72 off 48) departed in the following over, not before clubbing eight 4s and two maximums.
Their captain Dockrell was full of praise for how they went about their task.
“The two lads went in and batted positively,” he said. “Simi backed himself immediately and showed plenty of confidence in his shot making. Balbo was playing classical, proper cricket shots but still scoring quickly and putting us in a strong position.
“We didn’t really notice as the partnership built but it allowed us to come in and play cameos after they batted so well and set us up for good total.”
After Anderson departed quickly, Dockrell added late impetus with a quick-fire 32 off 17, which included three 4s and a six of his own.
Dockrell was run out off the last ball of the innings looking for a second but all told the Lightning had made 207/5 off their allocation to set the Knights 208 for victory.
The Knights needed some big partnerships and to get off to a good start if they were to be successful.
Kane ensured this wouldn’t be as he had Jones caught by Fionn Hand in the very first over.
McCollum (17) and Adair (15) put on 37 for the second wicket but when Kane returned for his second over, he removed them in successive balls to leave the Knights 41/3.
Shane Getkate (45) and Harry Tector (36) put on 80 for the 4 th wicket and really threatened to bring the Knights right back into the match.
Dockrell then took two wickets in an over to remove Tector and Greg Thompson, before Peter Chase took the big wicket of Getkate to leave the Knights 135/6, needing 73 off 4.5 overs.
What was looking like a difficult chase became a forlorn one when three wickets fell in three balls around the 18 th over.
First, Neil Rock was run out before Kane returned to take two wickets with his first two balls of the 18 th. This left the Knights 171/9 and staring down the barrel of being bowled out.
Mulder and Cameron Dow got them to 20 overs to avoid that and they also got past 165 runs to deny the Lightning the bonus point that would have given them the title.
Instead the Lightning restricted the Knights to 180/9 off their 20 overs for a 27-run victory that takes them to the brink of retaining the IP20 Trophy.
Dockrell was just as happy with the performance in the field.
“We contained them well in the first six and Tyrone getting the early wicket really pegged them back. I’m really happy for TK getting a 5-fer, and in just in three overs as well, is some effort. It was really pleasing for him to be able to display all his skills.
“Then Chaser (Peter Chase) showed at the end that he’s becoming an exceptional death bowler and the hard work he has put in with Rob Cassell is really paying off.
“We were happy with our performance to restrict them to 180 after putting on over 200 but there’s still things to learn and we’ll come back again tomorrow looking to improve, get the performance that will see us win and retain the Trophy.”
The chase for that title resumes tomorrow on Super Saturday at the IP20 Festival at Pembroke CC.
InterProvincial 20-Over Trophy, Leinster Lightning v Northern Knights
At Pembroke CC, Sydney Parade;
Leinster Lightning 207/5 (A Balbirnie 72, S Singh69; M Adair 2-40)
Northern Knights 180/9 (S Getkate 45, H Tector 36; T Kane 5-22)
Leinster Lightning win by 27 runs