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Balbirnie the bowler strikes to shoot Lightning to top

 

By Ian Callender at Bready

Andrew Balbirnie may have failed with the bat in this week's inter-provincial championship game but he hurried Leinster Lightning to a two-day victory with the ball.

The Ireland international, who became only the third player to score 200 for Ireland in last month's Intercontinental Cup match against Netherlands, showed his all-round talent to take four wickets as Lightning shot to the top of the table without needing to bat a second time.

North West Warriors were 143 for eight at the scheduled close, still needing nine runs to avoid the innings defeat, but five runs and 13 balls later it was all over, with Stuart Thompson edging Balbirnie to the keeper.

It was Balbirnie who had started the Warriors' collapse when he bowled Aaron Gillespie, immediately after the Strabane batsman brought up his 50.

But after that only Thompson, who had already been dropped in the slips, put up any resistance as Balbirnie and George Dockrell spun Lightning to a victory which still leaves them needing to avoid defeat in next week's game against Northern Knights at Clontarf to retain the trophy.

If they had picked up maximum points here, then a full haul of bonus points in the final game would have been enough but despite the last three wickets putting on 142 yesterday, they were finished 26 short of the elusive 300 total.

Resuming on 80 for five, Stuart Thompson and Johnny Thompson both struck early but even without a significant contribution from the in-form Dockrell, Kevin O'Brien still had wonderful support from Eddie Richardson.

And when Ross Allen finally forced a mistake from O'Brien - his 74 included 10 fours and a six - Tyrone Kane showed off the depth of this Lightning batting line-up with five fours and two sixes in his 38. For some reason Richardson, on 81, wanted a quick single off the last ball of an over to keep No 11 Peter Chase in strike! He didn't make it - but at least it eventually ensured he could head home a day early.

WEEKEND FIXTURES (12.00)

Irish Cup Final: Waringstown v The Hills (Magheramason, 11.30)

Gardiner Bros Premier League: Lisburn v Instonians (11.00). Sunday: North Down v Instonians (M2 4pm)

Section One: Derriaghy v Cliftonville, Donacloney Mill v Academy, Downpatrick v Armagh, Woodvale v Holywood. Sunday: Holywood v Armagh, Derriaghy v Academy

Section Two: BISC v Ballymena (Seapark Oval), Donaghadee v Cregagh, Larne v Cooke Collegians, Saintfield v Laurelvale, Templepatrick v Dundrum. Sunday: Cregagh v Larne (M2 11.00), Donaghadee v Saintfield (M2)

Long's SuperValu Premiership: Drummond v Donemana, Eglinton v Ardmore

Championship: Ballyspallen v Strabane, Bonds Glen v Burndennett, Newbuildings v Killyclooney, St Johnston v Glendermott. Sunday: Bond's Glen v Ballyspallen, Burndennett v Killyclooney, Strabane v Newbuildings.

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