Knights see fight for interpro clean sweep fall short
A century partnership between Ireland internationals Andrew Balbirnie and Lorcan Tucker ended Northern Knights' hopes of a clean sweep of this year's interprovincial titles.
It was a case of history repeating itself as the Leinster Lightning duo had put on 162 to take the game away from Knights in La Manga back in April. This time Lightning, thanks to a record-breaking spell by Tyrone Kane, were chasing only 177 to put them in control of their own destiny as they chase a sixth successive 50-over crown.
They can wrap it up tomorrow against North West Warriors at Balrothery, as long as the visitors don't win with a bonus point.
The visitors won their bonus at Stormont yesterday with more than seven overs to spare after Knights were bowled out inside 43 overs, and the loss of Graeme McCarter and, yesterday morning, David Delany to a side strain left them exposed.
Mark Adair struck twice in his first spell to reduce Lightning to 34-2 but he got no support at the other end, and the three spinners had aggregate figures of 13-0-72-0. To add to Knights' woes, Matthew Foster lasted only two overs before he had to retire with a back injury and Shane Getkate, not introduced until the 28th over, met Balbirnie and Tucker in full flight.
Balbirnie sacrificed his hopes of a 10th List-A century when he took on James Cameron-Dow's throw from third man and lost, but he did pass 3,000 runs.
Tucker, dropped on the cover boundary on 40, brought up his half century two balls later and his stand of 135 with Balbirnie came off just 127 balls, with 18 fours and two sixes.
Although it was a rare sunny start to an interpro this season, Lightning skipper George Dockrell had no hesitation bowling first and Kane took full advantage with five wickets in his first eight overs to leave Knights struggling at 46-5.
When he returned to take the final wicket, he became the first bowler to take six wickets in the revamped 50-over competition.
Gary Wilson batted almost twice as long as his team-mates to hold the innings together and shared a stand of 59 with Adair, and when CIYMS team-mates Jacob Mulder and Cameron-Dow were adding 42 for the ninth wicket it looked as if they could give their bowlers something to defend.
But leg spinner Gareth Delany removed both with his first four balls and, suddenly, Leinster were batting before lunch.
Ironically, Delany failed to survive the five overs up to the break but that only let in Balbirnie and, when he drove Josh Manley for his first four, the writing was on the wall for Knights.
M Ellison lbw b Kane 4
S Getkate c Tucker b Kane 4
H Tector lbw b Kane 18
G Wilson c Tucker b McCarthy 40
N Rock b Kane 1
G Thompson c Dockrell b Kane 2
M Adair c Tucker b Singh 40
J Mulder b Delany 28
J Cameron-Dow lbw b Delany 22
J Manley b Kane 1
M Foster not out 0
Extras (3lb 13w) 16
Total (42.2 overs) 176
Fall: 1-6 2-26 3-33 4-43 5-46 6-105 7-133 8-175 9-176
Bowling: T Kane 8.2-0-42-6, B McCarthy 8-2-29-1, J Little 6-0-21-0, P Chase 3-0-18-0, G Dockrell 6-0-28-0, S Singh 10-0-33-1, G Delany 1-0-2-2
J Tector b Adair 19
G Delany c Rock b Adair 6
A Balbirnie run out 90
L Tucker not out 57
S Singh not out 5
Extras (2w) 2
Total (3 wkts, 32.4 overs) 179
Did not bat: G Dockrell, S Doheny, T Kane, J Little, B McCarthy, P Chase
Fall: 1-9 2-34 3-169
Bowling: M Adair 8.4-0-41-2, J Manley 6-1-25-0, J Mulder 5-0-26-0, J Cameron-Dow 6-0-35-0, M Foster 2-0-13-0, H Tector 2-0-11-0, S Getkate 3-0-28-0
Leinster Lightning won by 7 wickets