All to play for after champions Instonians and title favourites CIYMS suffer defeats

Waringstown bowler Ruhan Pretorious in action against CIYMS at Circular Road
Waringstown bowler Ruhan Pretorious in action against CIYMS at Circular Road

Champions Instonians and the title favourites CIYMS started Saturday as the only undefeated teams in the NCU Premier League.

But they finished the day back amongst the pack after Civil Service North and Waringstown respectively ended their unbeaten records.

Instonians’ defeat at Stormont, coming less than 24 hours after an enthralling win over Waringstown on Friday night, was the more unexpected, and particularly the conclusive nature of it.

CSNI won by 72 runs, defending 209 in a 40-over game. The club’s own Twitter account predicted that total was around 20 short but Instonians’ top-order batting line-up capitulated for about the first time this season in 50-over cricket.

Allen Coulter, the paceman, had one of his brilliant days, removing first Nikolai Smith and professional Farhad Iqbal and then bowling Andrew White first ball on his way to taking three for 31. With Neil Russell a victim of John Costain, everything rested on James Shannon, but he couldn’t repeat his heroics from Friday night, lobbing Shane Getkate (4-21) tamely to cover.

Inst were soon 101 for nine and only a last-wicket stand of 36 between Zach Rushe and Matthew Lightbody (28) gave them a semblance of respectability.

Earlier the veteran left-hander Wayne Horwood bludgeoned 59 from just 57 balls, including seven fours and two sixes, to give CSNI a flying start. The innings threatened to unravel at 110 for four but professional Mansoor Amjad struck 62 from 49 balls with seven fours and a six. Stephen Bunting and Smith both took two wickets apiece but CSNI enjoyed revenge for last Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final result.

The key to Waringstown’s six-wicket win at Belmont meanwhile was the form of their fast bowlers. Phil Eaglestone (2-24), the left-arm seamer, produced arguably his finest spell of the season, inducing an early edge from Chris Dougherty to slip and later bowling Aaron Johnston for just a single.

James Mitchell, the 18-year-old, recorded his most impressive senior figures of three for 32, dismissing John Matchett, Nigel Jones and Nathan Burns as CI slumped to 56 for five.

The viewing was so unimpressive from a CI perspective that their former New Zealand professional Craig McMillan, visiting Belfast for a few days after the Black Caps’ tour of England, stayed less than half an hour.

Rassie van der Dussen, the current pro, was CI’s only’s hope and he struck four fours and two sixes before he was eighth man out for 61. He was one of three victims for the miserly Kyle McCallan (3-14) and despite 22 from Stephen Dunn, CI were dismissed for just 148.

With left-arm spinner James Cameron-Dow absent with an ankle injury and Jones unable to bowl with a continuing hand problem, there was little for Waringstown to fear in the CI attack. Adam Dennison and McCallan fell early but a 62-run partnership between Lee Nelson and James McCollum effectively decided the outcome.

Nelson eventually fell, caught down the leg side off van der Dussen for 35, but McCollum continued his purple patch with a fourth half-century of the season. Given several lives by CI, he finished unbeaten on 74 from 101 balls, including seven boundaries.

Waringstown won with almost 15 overs to spare in a game they probably couldn’t afford to lose after their defeat at Instonians on Friday night.