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Pretorious can help North Down end drought



Key performer: North Down ace Ruhan Pretorius

Key performer: North Down ace Ruhan Pretorius

Key performer: North Down ace Ruhan Pretorius

Four teams, two trophies, one venue. The NCU have taken advantage of the postponement of last week's Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup final to turn it into an attractive double-header at The Lawn tomorrow with the Gallagher Women's Challenge Cup final.

With the weather forecast on the up, it is looking good for the first two trophies of the season to be handed over, with the Women's decider at 10.30am followed by the first clash of the season between North Down and CIYMS at 3pm.

The top two teams in the Robinson Services League Cup were due to meet last Saturday at Comber but it was a victim of the weather, so the much-anticipated clash is set to be a winner-take all, with a place in the All-Ireland T20 semi-finals - the prize for the four provincial winners - also on the line.

Long before an All-Ireland T20 competition was first thought of, North Down were the inaugural winners of the then Lion Sports T20 Cup in 2005. Despite winning five of the first nine editions, and reaching the final on three occasions since, their last success was in 2013.

Indeed, either North Down or CIYMS have been in each of the last seven deciders but this will be their first meeting in the final.

CIYMS won the last T20 clash between the teams, the day before they clinched the league title last season with a five-run victory at The Green, when the game was reduced to the minimum distance.

They will have a familiar danger in the opposition again tomorrow in North Down professional Ruhan Pretorius. He has top scored in each of the last three T20 Cup ties between the teams, plundering 109 and 87 not out in the last two.

If Pretorius has proved CI's nemesis, then North Down know that the game is never over until they have dismissed Nigel Jones. They didn't manage it in either of the 2017 games, as he finished 94 not out and 75 not out, although it has been a surprisingly quiet season with the bat for the CI skipper.

Chris Dougherty has been the main man this year and, indeed, he has yet to be dismissed in the competition, the opener finishing 56 not out in the quarter-final against Woodvale and then seeing the job through as they passed Lisburn's 74-8 in the semi-final.

Pretorious, inevitably, and North Down skipper Ally Shields have scored half centuries on their route to the final, against Instonians and Waringstown, and it will be a confident North Down side desperate to end that seven-year itch.

CI have a day off today after their League Cup game at home to Woodvale was called off yesterday. In the Robinson Services Trophy, Saintfield's game has been switched to Muckamore with a 12 noon start.

Belfast Telegraph