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Anderson and Balbirnie sparkle to slay Knights

 

By Ian Callender

Leinster Lightning powered to a second successive win in the Twenty20 Trophy last night as the Northern Knights, competitive for 90 per cent of the game, were beaten with almost three overs to spare.

The bowlers had no answer to Andrew Balbirnie and captain John Anderson's blistering finish as the Ireland internationals smashed 42 off the last 15 balls.

After 15 overs, Lightning were only three runs ahead of the Knights at the same stage but while the NCU side could find the boundary only four times in the last five overs while adding 34 runs, Anderson hit four fours and a six from seven balls after Balbirnie had hit Gary Kidd for a four and six off successive balls to set up the charge to victory.

It was a superb demonstration of hitting and when you realise that Anderson is not even considered for Ireland duty in the shortest format, it underlines the strength of this Lightning side which has held all three inter-pro titles for the last two years. On this evidence they are on course for a yet another T20 success and last night Simi Singh (16) and Kevin O'Brien (17) 'failed' while Lorcan Tucker and Max Sorensen, one of the biggest hitters in the game, were not even required.

When Jacob Mulder bowled O'Brien in the 10th over, with 79 on the board, the Knights probably thought they were right in the match but Balbrinie and Anderson doubled the score and failed to score off only two of the last 32 balls. Oh to be able to take that onto the international stage where Ireland have gone backwards in the last two years in T20 cricket.

The Knights totalled 157 for eight thanks almost exclusively to skipper James Shannon and Greg Thompson and a run-a-ball finish by Nikolai Smith. Shannon picked up where he left off in the Championship game between the teams - which he finished 140 not out - hitting his fourth ball out of the ground for the first of his four sixes to go with four fours in his 35-ball 51.

After Shannon lost his first four partners by the start of the seventh over - he had scored half of his side's 48 runs - Greg Thompson joined him for a fourth wicket stand of 40 and the Waringstown skipper then shared a sixth wicket partnership of 57 with Smith.

Thompson holed out to long-on after hitting 56 from 40 balls with eight fours but as Smith was to find out, scoring 21 off 21 is just not fast enough in T20 cricket.

The other scheduled game last night between Munster Reds and North West Warriors in Cork was abandoned without a ball bowled, the nightmare scenario for the 12 Warriors players who had to make the 600-miles round trip. Also postponed today is the NCU Premier League game between CIYMS and Carrickfergus, because of ground conditions at Belmont.

Scores: At Anglesea Road, Northern Knights 157-8 (20 overs, G Thompson 56, J Shannon 51, Nik Smith 21; S Singh 3-19, B Gamble 2-22, T Stanton 2-30) Leinster Lightning 158-3 (17.1 overs, A Balbirnie 71 not out, J Anderson 41 not out; S Getkate 2-47). Leinster Lightning won by 7 wickets.

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