Bowlers find groove as Knights prove they're up for the fight
The Northern Knights bowlers fought back to keep the Inter-provincial Championship game against Leinster Lightning at Stormont in the balance going into the final day.
Despite reaching 190 for three just before tea yesterday, just 43 behind Knights' first innings total, the holders were restricted to a lead of 55 at the close of the second day, brought forward by an hour because of rain.
The heaviest of the day arrived to prevent Knights starting their second innings and it was no surprise to see that it was the Lightning players who rushed out to help the groundstaff pin down the covers, hoping to get some overs at the Knights openers last night.
Although their efforts were in vain, there are still 104 overs left in the match, more than enough time to get a positive result if the bowlers continue to hold the upper hand.
One player who will not be bowling for Lightning today is international Kevin O'Brien, who was declared 'retired hurt' at the start of the day with a recurrence of the hamstring problem which forced him to return early from Ireland's series against Afghanistan in March.
But when Lightning were only level with Knights at the fall of the seventh wicket, O'Brien strolled to the middle to bat. He hit one boundary and ran a two and a couple of singles, without looking in any discomfort, but when he went forward to his 10th delivery, it nipped back and trapped him leg before to leave the visitors on 244 for eight, just 11 runs in front.
Enter Peter Chase, no longer the rabbit which saw him equal an ODI record of five successive ducks, and the Malahide bowler had every right to tell O'Brien that he came in one wicket too early. Chase was last man out for 16, equalling his best first-class score, after sharing a ninth wicket stand of 43 - the third highest of the innings - with Eddie Richardson who, with the help of seven fours, passed 50 on his first-class debut.
The Lightning collapse - which saw three wickets fall for 12 runs either side of tea - was inspired by Gary Kidd, the Waringstown slow left armer.
He dismissed top scorer Jack Tector for 75 before the interval and with his first ball after it, he bowled Lorcan Tucker, his second international of the day, having earlier had Andrew Balbirnie caught behind for 56.
Although Chris Dougherty also held the catch to dismiss Lightning captain John Anderson, it was not a good day for the CIYMS wicket-keeper who dropped a straightforward chance off Tector when he was on 35 and later spilled a chance offered by Simi Singh. The two batsmen went on to add 72 runs.
The biggest wicket of the day was taken by Graeme McCarter by the best ball of the day, pitching leg and hitting the off stump of Ed Joyce, to leave Ireland's best batsman just six short of 18,000 first-class runs.
Northern Knights 1st Innings 233 (J McCollum 119 not out, E Richardson 4-33, P Chase 3-41, G Delaney 3-48)
LEINSTER LIGHTNING 1ST INNINGS
E Joyce b McCarter 13
J Tector b Kidd 75
J Anderson c Dougherty b Nik Smith 3
A Balbirnie c Dougherty b Kidd 56
S Singh c Dougherty b Getkate 40
L Tucker b Kidd 2
E Richardson b McKinley 53
G Delaney c Matchett b McCarter 9
K O’Brien lbw b Getkate 8
P Chase b McKinley 16
M Neville not out 1
Extras (6b 4lb 2w) 12
Total (95 overs) 288
Fall: 1-30 2-47 3-139 4-190 5-200 6-202 7-233 8-244 9-287
Bowling: G McCarter 20-6-44-2, Nat Smith 18-4-54-0, Nik Smith 13-3-23-1, R McKinley 10-0-36-2, S Getkate 9-0-51-2, G Kidd 25-5-70-3