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Knights take a commanding lead in the hunt for T20 honours

 

Got him: James Cameron-Dow catches Lightning’s Simi Singh
Got him: James Cameron-Dow catches Lightning’s Simi Singh

By Ian Callender

Northern Knights made it three wins out of three in the first T20 Festival of the season after a frustrating day in Pembroke.

Greg Thompson was the match-winner with an unbeaten 65 from 31 balls in a game reduced to 13 overs, although Tyrone Kane gave the NCU side a scare in the last over.

With Leinster Lightning needing 29 to win, Knights captain Gary Wilson threw the ball to Shane Getkate, rather than trust James Cameron-Dow, his slow left armer who had taken three wickets for just 12 runs in his first two overs.

Kane hit the first ball over the boundary at wide long-on, the second into the sightscreen and the third over long-off - a hat-trick of sixes to reduce the target to 11 off three balls.

The international needed only three fours to claim a dramatic win, but he couldn't stop himself, and although Getkate's next ball was slightly fuller he still tried to clear the boundary at mid-wicket. This time it wasn't long enough and Mark Adair held a comfortable catch to leave Lightning nine down.

It was too much to expect Josh Little to repeat Kane's heroics - he had failed to connect with four balls in the previous over from Adair - and the tame finish left Knights the winners by eight runs.

The day's action had been due to start at 11.30am with the game between North West Warriors and Munster Reds, but a 15-minute downpour, on top of a two-hour deluge the previous evening, ended any hope of play in the game between the teams who had lost on the opening day.

Indeed, for Ireland Test captain William Porterfield it was a wasted two days. He missed Saturday's defeat by the Knights as he was at his sister's wedding and Sunday's game against Lightning was also a wash-out.

As a result, Knights, the only team to play all three games, have a commanding seven-point lead at the top of the T20 table with each team having three games to play at Bready in August, weather permitting.

When play finally got under way at 5.45pm, Thompson was the big individual winner and, although the Ireland team for the three-match series against Zimbabwe was selected on Sunday night, he can only have enhanced his chances of an international recall with 102 runs off 51 balls in his only two innings - he wasn't required to bat against the Reds.

Yesterday he dwarfed everyone else in the match, hitting four fours and six sixes, as he lost his skipper, Gary Wilson, after a good-looking 21 from 15 balls and Adair for 19 from 11, including two fours and a six.

Harry Tector hit his first two balls for six but was out two balls later as the Knights finished much stronger than they had started, Kane dismissing Getkate to the first ball of the game and Peter Chase bowling James McCollum with his first delivery in the second over.

Although Kevin O'Brien was caught from the fourth ball of the Lightning innings, Gareth Delany and Andrew Balbirnie had 74 on the board by the end of the fifth over. They shared six sixes and seven fours until a superb throw by Cameron-Dow ran out Delany for 36 from 13 balls. But they lost their next three wickets for 12 runs and Knights were in control.

In the draw for the semi-finals of the North West Senior Cup, holders Brigade were drawn away to Ardmore while last year's two promoted teams, Glendermott and Ballyspallen, will meet at The Rectory.

Semi-final draw: Ardmore v Brigade, Glendermott v Ballyspallen. Games to be played on Sunday, July 7.

T20 Inter-provincial Cup

Sydney Parade: Northern Knights 138-5 (13 overs, G Thompson 65 not out, G Wilson 21; T Kane 2-21) Leinster Lightning 130-9 (13 overs, A Balbirnie 44, G Delany 36, T Kane 26; J Cameron-Dow 3-12, S Getkate 2-43). Knights won by eight runs.

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