Knights put up fight but Lightning all set to strike
When the players went in for lunch with the Northern Knights, having won the toss, 60-4, it looked to be a familiar story of Leinster Lightning dominance in the first class fixture between the teams at Stormont.
It may still end like that but James McCollum and Shane Getkate, with contrasting innings, ensured an excellent fightback and a respectable, but no more, first innings total of 263.
The wicket of Jack Tector, to Nikolai Smith, in the 14 overs remaining added gloss to the first day for the NCU side, but it will need more of the same fight if they are to stay in contention today.
McCollum was an absentee with a groin strain when the Knights lost heavily on Monday to North West Warriors, but he showed his commitment to the cause in declaring himself fit to bat yesterday and continued it in the middle in an innings lasting more than four hours.
He fell 13 short of his century, caught at slip off the bowling of Lightning skipper George Dockrell, after taking full advantage of a 'life' on 10 when Simi Singh, another of the eight internationals in the visitors' line-up, spilled a difficult chance at second slip.
If McCollum showed patience and obduracy, Getake got off the mark with a pulled six over square leg, setting the tone for an innings which included 11 fours and two sixes.
Ten of the boundaries came in his first 50 from just 44 balls, and when he was lbw to Dockrell for 70, he had been at the crease for only a little over two hours.
The rest of the batting will need to show similar grit or ambition second time around because, apart from Neil Rock who finished 20 not out from 62 balls, it wasn't good enough.
Admittedly, the top six faced excellent new ball spells by Tyrone Kane and Peter Chase, and they were splendidly backed up before lunch by David Delany - who was the unlucky bowler when McCollum was dropped - and Jared Barnes.
The former Coleraine, Muckamore and Armagh paceman joined the list of bowlers who took a wicket with their first ball in first class cricket when he had Smith caught down the leg side.
Chase had already put Mark Ellison out of his misery after a nervous debut innings for Knights, with the umpire answering the fourth appeal for leg before in his 22-ball innings in the affirmative.
James Shannon hit 15 off 24 balls but was still on 15 when he faced his 43rd ball and duly lost patience, slashing outside the off stump and Dockrell held a good catch at second slip. Chris Dougherty was yorked by the last ball before lunch and when Monday's batting hero Harry Tector followed shortly after the break, to another second slip catch, it looked as if the better part of the day would be spent in the field.
But as the pitch flattened out and the bowlers tried too hard for the next breakthrough, Getkate and McCollum enjoyed themselves and the Lightning bowlers were suddenly under pressure.
However, after Getkate's dismissal, the last three wickets could add only 22 runs with a run out, inevitably, part of the finale, while Chase picked up the other two.
Instonians opening bowler James Magee, on his first class debut, conceded 13 in a nervous first over, but with that one out of the way, he showed why he had earned a call-up with a couple of testing overs.
John Anderson, predictably, looked solid in seeing his side to the close but, ominously, Andrew Balbirnie has already hit three boundaries and looks in the mood for big runs today.