Middle Cup Group C was contested by Merrion 3, North Kildare 2, Laois 1 and Mullingar 1. Unfortunately, this group was one of the worst affected by the mid-summer restrictions imposed on Kildare, Laois and Offaly.
This meant there were quite a number of No Results in the group, however there was still one dominant side when all was said and done.
Kicking off in week 1, Merrion travelled to North Kildare, the hosts batted first, and 50 from Hassan Mehmood, supported by 34 from Monty Singh led them to 145/7 in their 20 overs, Timcy Khanduja was the pick of Merrion’s bowlers, with 2/16. It was a one man show in the chase for Merrion, Sai Reddy plundered 72*, counter-attacking his side out of a bit of a rut, as Imran Ul-Haq’s 3/22 had reduced them to 84/6, seeing the visitors chase the total with 7 balls, and 3 wickets to spare. In the other tie, Laois bowled first and a superb effort from Usama Raees (4/16) and Kamran Sabrie (3/12) saw Mullingar bowled out for 78. The home side took just 12 overs to chase the total, Armand Smit (27*) and Paul Croke (28) leading the way to a 9 wicket Laois win.
Round 2 saw Laois’ turn to visit Kilcock, North Kildare batted first and thanks again to Monty Singh’s 47 they made 136/8, Jawad Amin the pick of the visiting bowlers with 3/19. In the chase, Ahsan Pervaiz’s 43 set the platform for Usama Raees’ 24* to see Laois home by 6 wickets with 27 balls to spare. Mullingar visited Merrion, and batted first 31 from Zander de Beer complimented an unbeaten 57 for Sai Reddy in propelling them to 144/4 from their 20. Mullingar stuttered to 32/3 but Sam Murphy’s unbeaten 75, accompanied by Declan Ashley’s 35* saw them to a 7 wicket win in the penultimate over.
Round 3 was the first time North Kildare hit the road, travelling to Mullingar where they bowled first. Robert Delaney top scored with 27 as two wickets for each of Imran ul-Haq, Ahmed Dar, Gulab Singh and Sadaf Raza saw the hosts bowled out for 129. Two wickets for Woody O’Neill stalled the run chase, however from 67/4, Ul-Haq made an unbeaten 41 and was accompanied to the finish by Monty Singh who made 35 as North Kildare managed to chase the runs with 6 balls to spare. Laois travelled to Merrion and bowled first, two wickets apiece for Kamran Sabrie, Armand Smit and Matthew Auret countered Hugo Neville’s 25, at 73/9 Seán Hussey made what turned out to be a vital 16 as the home side were bowled out with 8 balls remaining. Laois were reduced to 37/5 when Fintan Moore came in, his 30* countered and got Laois close, however an excellent all-round bowling effort from Merrion held their visitors 7 runs short off their 20 overs.
The game to survive in Round 4 was Mullingar’s visit to Anglesea Road. Merrion batted first and collapsed to 45/6, thanks to 3 wickets from Parvaz Ahmed and two from Aqib Hameed, from which point Oisín Bhoja (31*) and Sai Reddy (40) took control of the innings and made their way to 133/7 from 20 overs. Mullingar were never really in the chase, every Merrion bowler taking a wicket, as Raghav Khurana took 2/12 and Oisín Bhoja 2/11 in restricting their visitors to 88/8, a 45 run Merrion victory, putting them in the driving seat for qualification.
The final game to survive the lockdown restrictions was the final week clash between Merrion and Laois in Stradbally, the visitors batted first and Timothy Knight’s 44 opening the innings set them up for a big total. Sai Reddy entered the fray at number 7 and once again provided a big contribution for his side, his 53 taking them to 172 all out from the final ball of the innings. Usama Raees’ 4/39 was the pick of the bowling, supported by two wickets for each of Louis Hofmyer and Armand Smit. Smit and Kamran Sabrie got the home side off to a great start, before Vidit Sukhramani’s 4/25 stalled the chase, Raees then entered and bludgeoned 35* which was unfortunately just not enough as they finished on 169/6, three runs short of Merrion.
Meanwhile, the final Middle Cup group, Group D, comprised YMCA 3, Adamstown 2, Bagenalstown 1 and Leinster 3. In 2019 there would be a 4 division spread between these 4 teams, but the way the group panned out you wouldn’t have known that.
The season kicked off with YMCA hosting Adamstown, the home side bowled first and thanks to Aaron Naughton’s 3/30 and William Connellan’s 2/25, they were able to counter Kamil Mahajan’s 42 and hold Adamstown to 129/8 from their 20 overs. YM were stifled slightly and at 81/4 Connellan joined Henry Thompson, who’s 41* from 29 balls saw the home side to a 5 wicket win with 8 balls to spare. Meanwhile in Bagenalstown, Leinster bowled first and had their hosts 31/3, Zeeshan Mumtaz (37) and Muhammad Khan (56*) took them to 157/4. Sanjith Poojary and Karthikeyan Jawahar both made scores in excess of 40 as Leinster chased the runs, but a run out and two wickets for Khan saw momentum swing to the Baggies, who won out by 14 runs.
In round 2, Bagenalstown welcomed Adamstown, the home side made 100 all out, Mumtaz with 5/14, before rain spoiled Adamstown’s chase efforts at just 2/0. In YMCA, Leinster batted first, and their innings was all about Ashok Yadav’s unbeaten 76 from 48 balls, propelling the visitors to 147/8 in 20 overs. Two wickets apiece for Naufal Amanullah, Sonny Rosha and William Connellan ensured nobody else got going. In reply, only Vipul Kashyap (33) and Henry Thompson (41) made double figures as Yadav backed up his batting efforts with 4/21 and supported by Jack Barry’s 2/11 saw YM restricted to 118 and a 29 run victory for the Rathmines side.
Bagenalstown’s round 3 visit to YMCA saw them bowling first, the Claremont Road side’s skipper Sonny Rosha dominated the innings with 51, but no other player passed 20 as YM were all out for 148. 4/27 for Zain Khan the pick of the visiting bowlers. Rosha then followed up his batting performance with a superb spell of 5/10 from 4 overs as Bagenalstown were all out for 79, the home side running out 69 run victors. In Corkagh Park, Leinster batted first, Aneesh Kohli and Yadav made 38 and 30 respectively as they were 117 all out. Two wickets each for Adamstown’s pair of Aman Yadav and Abhijith Mathew. Suhas Yellur’s 39 from 17 balls took centre stage in the run chase as the hosts won by 5 wickets with an over to spare.
Leinster batted first at home against Bagenalstown in round 4, and Sanjith Poojary’s 80* saw them to 155/6, Zain Khan again the pick of the bowlers with 2/24. Mumtaz (25) top scored for Bagenalstown but 3 wickets for Muhammad Sheikh helped to bowl them out for just 95, securing a 60 run win for the hosts. Over in Corkagh Park, YMCA batted first, Sonny Rosha again at the forefront, making 72 out of his team’s 147/4. Daniel Swift then took 4/24 from his 4 overs as Adamstown capitulated to 73 all out in just 14.2 overs. A 74 run victory for the visiting side.
Round 5 saw Bagenalstown bowl first on their visit to Adamstown, Zeeshan Mumtaz’s 4/15 was the stand out effort for the visitors as Vikram Uppalapati’s 59, supported by Navaneethakrishnan Venkataraman’s 29 saw Adamstown to 130/8 from 20 overs. The chase was led by Sunny Charles’ 40 but two wickets apiece for Krith Shetty and Aditya Sonawane held Bagenalstown to 125 all out, just 5 runs short with 4 balls to spare. YMCA bowled first in Rathmines, where Waleed Khan’s 42 got Leinster to 125/9, three wickets for Naufal Amanullah the pick of the visiting bowlers. After two early wickets, Vipul Kashyap (56) and Nathan Johns (43) took YM to 107/2, at which point Ashok Yadav tore the guts out of the middle order with 4/20. That wasn’t enough for Leinster though as YMCA eventually made it to a 4 wicket victory with 9 balls to spare.
Adamstown batted first at home to Leinster, Gurashan Singh Lubana (40) and Vikram Uppalapati (31) made the biggest contributions as they scored 145/9. Two wickets for each of Ashok Yadav and Mohammad Shaikh. Leinster’s chase was well timed, Kiran Patil making 40 in support of a Waleed Khan who made 43* from 22 to see them to 148/4 with three balls to spare. YMCA visited Bagenalstown having already qualified, and batted first, Roy Maltby’s 58 was the mainstay of the innings in their 123/5. In response, Zeeshan Mumtaz’s 56, accompanied by Zain Khan’s 38* countered Mayank Rajput’s 3/30 as Bagenalstown won with 5 wickets and 10 balls to spare.
At the conclusion, it was Merrion 3 and YMCA 3 who emerged from Groups C and D as semi-finalists, joining Wexford Wanderers and Clontarf 3 in the final four.