Alistair Shields sparkles as North Down earn first win of season
It was a record-breaking afternoon at The Green as North Down picked up their first Robinson Services Premier League victory of the season with a 175-run win against Waringstown.
Captain Alistair Shields (123) and Aniruddha Chore (115) put on an astonishing 264 for the first wicket with the duo batting for 46 overs before they were both ran out by Andre Malan in consecutive balls.
That opening stand broke a club record that had stood for decades between Ian Shields and Raman Lamba, and it helped the home side reach a total of 284/7 while Waringstown could only muster 109 all out inside 30 overs.
Their partnership is also the second-highest by a North Down duo since CricketEurope started recording statistics in 2006 – only 267 put on for the second-wicket by Danny Graham and Pieter Malan against Derriaghy in 2016 can top it.
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“I wasn’t aware of it until somebody said after the game,” said Shields.
“If you’re in that sort of company and your name is part of those sort of conversations then you’re in a pretty good place.
“It’s not something you ever really target of course but it’s great to get that with Ani and I’m looking forward to opening the batting with him this season.”
Shields has now taken his run tally for the 2021 campaign past 350 with the magnificent century and he is undoubtedly amongst the finest batsmen in the Premier League.
Captaincy seems to have brought the best out of him and even more importance has been placed onto his contributions with the absence of Paul Stirling and departure of Ruhan Pretorius – a task which he has stepped up to superbly so far.
“I’m feeling in good touch,” he added.
“I’ve put a bit of pressure on myself this season to take on that role at the top of the order.
“I did it a bit in Twenty20 cricket but I’m looking to do it in 50-over cricket too and set myself a target of converting some of the 50’s and 60’s which I’ve been hitting pretty consistently over the last few years into hundreds and match-winning performances.
“It was pleasing to carry that on and hopefully it continues.”
It’s a first big contribution from wicketkeeper-batsman Chore who joined ahead of the current season and has already impressed those at his new club.
“He settled in really well and I’m delighted for him,” added Shields.
“He played beautifully and I said before the season that he’s the type of guy who if he gets in will be hard to dislodge.
“He’s a very organised player and he can score all around the ground.
“It’s great to see him get a score on the board and it was great to bat with him for so long.”
Another new signing that has started life superbly in Comber is fast bowler Tom Mayes.
The 19-year-old – who holds an Irish passport – arrived from South Africa and picked up figures of 3-18 from his seven overs on Saturday, including the vital dismissal of overseas professional Malan.
“He’s settled in really well and has got stuck in with all aspects of the club which is really important when you have guys come across,” added Shields.
“He bowled really well and has picked up a knack of getting the pros or big players out which is always a great trait to have.
“It looks really promising for him and I think he can contribute with the bat as well.”
After a disappointing start to the season in which they missed out on LVS Twenty20 Cup semi-final progression and had an opening league defeat to Carrickfergus, Shields is looking to gain some momentum as they welcome Instonians next weekend before the Challenge Cup gets underway.
“The league is so open this year that anybody can beat anybody,” he said.
“If you can put a few results together you can put yourself in with a chance.”
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