Ireland's World Twenty20 hopes boosted
Ireland should have a straightforward passage to the World Twenty20 finals in Bangladesh following the draw for the qualifying competition in the UAE in November.
With six of the 16 Associate teams to join the 10 Full Members at the finals, it was never likely to be too difficult a task for the team which won last year's qualifying tournament.
But their cause has been helped by the fact Afghanistan, the team they beat in the final, plus the Netherlands, Scotland and Kenya are all in the other group.
Although still to be officially confirmed by ICC, reports suggest that Ireland's other group opponents will be Namibia, Canada, Uganda, USA, Hong Kong, UAE and Italy, who won the European qualifying tournament, beating Denmark in the final at Hove on Saturday.
The Danes go into Afghanistan's group which is completed by Bermuda, Nepal and Papua New Guinea.
Namibia were the only team to beat Ireland at last year's qualifying tournament – in the opening match – but the Irish then won their next nine games to ease into the finals in Sri Lanka, where rain denied them the chance to beat West Indies and reach the later stages.
Meanwhile, Instonians had an easy return to the top of the Ulster Bank Premier League yesterday with a nine wickets victory over Lurgan at Shaw's Bridge.
They had surrendered joint leadership on Saturday to North Down, who beat Lisburn by five wickets, because they were booking their place in the Challenge Cup final with a 26 runs win over Civil Service North.
Jordan McClurkin, who batted at No 11 in the semi-final, underlined the batting strength at Instonians by hitting an unbeaten 57 from 38 balls with six fours and three sixes when promoted yesterday to replace the unavailable John Stevenson as opener.
After bowling out Lurgan for just 103, Instonians knocked off the runs in just 13 overs for the loss of Neil Russell, who took 15 off the first over.
Earlier Stephen Chambers alone had stood up to the Instonians bowlers, scoring 43 off 87 balls.
But when Peter Haire, second top scorer with 18, was dismissed in the 34th over, Lurgan collapsed from 90 for three to 91 for eight in the space of four overs, Nicolai Smith taking four of the wickets.
A surprising Instonians collapse on Saturday against CSN could have threatened their place in the cup final.
Andrew White made 88 but was beaten by the spin of Griffin Nieuwoudt and Instonians' last five wickets added only 50 in the remaining 12 overs, bowled out with four balls unused.
But CSN slumped to 36 for five and, despite late order resistance from Wayne Horwood, Chris McMorran and Corin Goodall, the visitors – at one stage 174 for seven – were bowled out for 183 in the 49th over.
Waringstown, who will meet Instonians in the final at The Green on Friday week, got Lurgan's tough weekend off to an unhappy start by winning the first league derby for three years by 67 runs.
North Down promoted Nick Larkin to open the batting and the Aussie proved a hit against Lisburn, finishing 90 not out and the game with a six as the Comber side reached their target of 186 with six overs to spare.
Ballymena won by seven wickets away to defending champions CIYMS.