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Adair leads the way as CI fight back to land Cup

Winning feeling: CIYMS captain Nigel Jones receives the Gallagher’s Challenge Cup from NCU president Richard Johnston
Winning feeling: CIYMS captain Nigel Jones receives the Gallagher’s Challenge Cup from NCU president Richard Johnston

By Ian Callender

CIYMS' dominance over Instonians in the Gallagher's Challenge Cup continued with a third successive triumph in the final at Comber.

Victors in 2015 and 2017, they completed the hat-trick with another all-round team performance as they recovered from 12-3 to total 220 and the Shaw's Bridge side never got close, collapsing from 90-3 to 122 all out.

There were arguments over the man of the match, whether it should be Jason van der Merwe, who came to the middle at No.5 in the fifth over and scored a chanceless 50 from 77 balls, or Mark Adair, who scored 63 of the sixth-wicket stand with Ryan Hunter, which effectively took the game away from Instonians.

On a slow and desperately low pitch, once CI brought up the 200 it looked a winning total and although they were bowled out in the 49th over, the momentum was certainly with the defending league champions who remain on course to win five trophies this season.

Adair was not allowed to bowl in the match by Cricket Ireland, following his lengthy spells at Lord's last week, but the all-rounder was always going to be key with the bat.

He joined the fray with CI still in a spot of bother at 97-5 in the 30th over but was quickly into his stride, making light of the bowler-friendly pitch.

He hit his fifth ball for the first of his eight boundaries and a six followed four overs later. His 50 came up from 48 balls - a strike rate unmatched by anyone else - and he was starting to tee off in the 46th over, failing by inches to bring up his fifth six with a superb straight drive off Shane Getkate, a team-mate in the upcoming Euro T20 Slam.

Next ball, Ben Rose stopped him in his tracks with a superb diving catch at long-off, but in the end it was too little too late for Instonians, even though CI could add only 13 runs for the last four wickets with Josh Manley picking up his fourth to end the innings. It was the South African, Irish passport holder who had caused the early mayhem after Jones won the toss and elected to bat.

The skipper was the sandwich in the middle of John Matchett and Chris Dougherty's wickets, the lack of pace doing it for Jones who skied one to mid-off.

Obus Pienaar was so cautious of the pitch that he took 17 balls to get off the mark - him and Van der Merwe happy to play out three successive maidens at the start of their partnership - but when both fell in quick succession, the latter after bringing up his 50, Instonians were on top.

By that stage, however, Murray Commins, their South African professional, was off the field with a back injury and that was to cause problems for his side later on. He had been absent for so long that he could not bat until the fall of the fifth wicket - and with only 95 runs on the board, it was already an almost impossible task.

One batsman who could not be blamed for the Instonians collapse was Olly Metcalfe, who, despite waking up in Holland at 3am yesterday at the end of Ireland Under-19s' World Cup qualifying campaign, made it to Comber, along with James Hunter, at 10.52am, eight minutes before the start.

It was the main reason why Andrew White would have bowled anyway but while the Instonians captain was one of three early wickets to fall, Metcalfe stayed for 24 overs, faced 73 balls and hit eight fours before he was bowled by Jacob Mulder, the most accurate member of the CI attack.

It was Jones, however, who brought himself back to get rid of Commins. It took him only three balls and he knew then he was just four wickets away from lifting the trophy once again.

Next up, the Irish Cup semi-final against Waringstown at Belmont tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph

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