Five bowlers taking two wickets and an unbeaten 41 from captain Fiachra Tucker meant a 7-wicket victory for Pembroke over Leinster and an early evening enjoying the hottest day of the year in Sydney Parade.
Theo Lawson was more than happy to open the season with the victory.
“We’re delighted with how today went, it’s a great start and to have a nearly full-strength team too.”
After David Murphy and Shaheen Khan had threatened but gone wicketless, Leinster had moved to 40 without loss with Gareth Delany 26 not out.
The double change of bowling to Josh Little and Barry McCarthy saw four wickets shared evenly for just 16 runs including the key wickets of Delany and George Dockrell.
When JJ Garth backed that up with 2-4 off 3 overs and Jack Balbirnie took two more wickets for just 13 off five overs himself, Leinster were struggling at 69/8 after 28 overs.
It was a relatively low and slow pitch, but the extra pace of the balanced seam attack promises much for the season. Khan returned to the attack to get his reward and close out the innings with two wickets in an over as Leinster were all out for 88 in exactly 31 overs.
“The four seamers led the way with the ball and a professional job, led by the captain (Fiachra Tucker) got us home,” said Lawson after the game.
With lots of time left in the innings, Pembroke had 15 overs to chase before the Tea break and they went about it carefully.
George Dockrell, who bowled beautifully, and Gareth Delany removed Heverin and Garth respectively but Tucker 25* and Lawson 14* saw the home side to Tea at a comfortable 48/2.
Tucker had found time to launch two massive sixes in an over, but they were safe shots as he batted a fluent, match-sealing 41 not out.
At the other end, Lawson was in a hurry after Tea chasing a few deliveries but was rewarded with some boundaries of his own, including a lovely hook off his hips to deep fine leg.
“It can be tricky with those small chases, so when I came in, I wanted to get a move on and get us home early if I could,” added Lawson.
Lawson wouldn’t see it through though, with just eight needed he departed. That, however, gave the large crowd just a glimpse of Khan’s undoubted all-round talent.
After two extravagant leaves, he leant exquisitely on a drive through mid-wicket that raced to the boundary to get off the mark. Two balls later another boundary from Khan, this time pulled to long-leg, saw Pembroke over the line by seven wickets and the home crowd confident they’ve an all-rounder to count on.
Not a day Leinster will want to remember, however Gareth Delany impressed with both bat and ball, Hugh MacDonnell looked composed at the top of the order and George Dockrell bowled beautifully.
Before the start of play both sets of players and the umpires lined the pitch for a moment’s silence in memory of Mary Dwyer and Robert Lawson, something Theo Lawson acknowledged at the close of play.
“It was a strange day today with just the three of us now but everyone in the club has been excellent to us over the winter in a really hard time. The three of us, plus Barney the dog, are delighted to be back down here and we’re hoping to bring home some silverware this season.”
This day next week, in the second round of group matches, the main coverage on Cricket Leinster will be from Clontarf as they host Merrion.
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Leinster 88 a/o 31 overs (G Delany 26, H Mac Donnell 25; JJ Garth 2-4, J Little 2-10, J Balbirnie 2-13, B McCarthy 2-19, S Khan 2-23)
Pembroke 90/3 23.1 overs (F Tucker 41*, T Lawson 29; G Dockrell 1-15, G Delany 1-21, A Ghaffar 1-21)
Pembroke win by 7 wickets