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Larkin to make opening stand for Northern Knights

By Ian Callender

Nick Larkin could be promoted to opener by the Northern Knights for their inter-provincial clash against the North West Warriors this week after continuing his remarkable form at the top of the order for North Down on Saturday.

Since his promotion at The Green, to cover for the absent Andrew Sutherland, Larkin has had scores of 80, 90 not out, and his latest, 75 not out when North Down reached their victory target of 182 against Lurgan in the Ulster Bank Premier League.

Although Rory McCann, an experienced opening batsman, is included for the first time in the Knights' three-day squad, he has been batting in the middle order for Instonians since returning from teaching duties in Scotland and the in-form Larkin is the obvious replacement for his club-mate Johnny Terrett – who has lost his place to McCann.

Terrett was replaced as opening batsman at Pollock Park on Saturday by Tim Ley and although the Australian professional made only 11, and Alistair Shields followed shortly afterwards, Larkin and his captain, Ryan Haire (76 not out), saw North Down to outright leadership of the Premier League with an unbeaten stand of 121 for the third wicket.

Peter Eakin was North Down's most successful bowler with three for 40 while James Cameron-Dow, who will make his inter-pro debut for the Knights tomorrow at Osborne Park, took one for 29 in his 10 overs.

Regular Knights opening batsman Chris Dougherty made 42 for CIYMS at Stormont, but the defending champions lost to Civil Service North, the only team below them at the start of the day, and now find themselves in a three-way dog-fight at the bottom of the table.

Jason van der Merwe, another batsman enjoying a new lease of life since being promoted to opener, finished 88 not out as CSN passed CI's total of 173 at the start of the 45th over for the loss of just two wickets. Earlier, another Knight, Allan Coulter made the breakthrough for the home side and, encouragingly, conceded just 11 runs in his six overs.

Lisburn's Nathan Waller goes into the inter-pro in top form after taking four for 20 against Ballymena in their nine wicket victory at Wallace Park, the visitors dismissed for just 111. Robert Rankin made light of that total with 78 not out and Craig Ervine, the other Knight in action, was 13 not out when Lisburn won in the 23rd over.

Three of the Warriors debutants in last week's Twenty20 games have retained their places for the three-day game, the Fox Lodge duo of Jason Milligan and Dean McCarter and Coleraine opening bowler Gareth Burns.

Stuart Thompson was unavailable for selection because of injury while Scott Campbell is in the Ireland under-19 team.

Burns replaces Andrew Britton in the other change to the team that lost the first game between the teams at Eglinton last month.

Milligan hopes he is saving his runs for the match after being dismissed for a duck in yesterday's only Premiership game, but his team-mates saw the Foxes to a five wickets victory over Bready, who slumped to their seventh straight defeat.

Milligan, though, dismissed Bready's top scorer Ramano Ramoo and then watched Johnny Heywood score an unbeaten half century as the home side reached their revised target of 169 in 43 overs with more than eight overs to spare.

Inter-pro squads: Northern Knights: A White (capt), C Dougherty, N Larkin, C Ervine, J Shannon, L Nelson, R McCann, G Thompson, N Waller, J Cameron-Dow, A Coulter, P Eaglestone.

North West Warriors: N McDonnell (capt), D Rankin, J Milligan, D McCarter, J Thompson, A Riddles, A McBrine, G Burns, R-L Dougherty, P Connell, I Hussain, K Sajjid.

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