CRICKET: Andrew Balbirnie century but NW Warriors in control over Leinster Lightning

Andrew Balbirnie. Pic by PressEye.
Andrew Balbirnie. Pic by PressEye.

The NW Warriors maintained total control of their Championship clash with Leinster Lightning despite a defiant unbeaten hundred from Andrew Balbirnie on his home ground.

Balbirnie struck 11 boundaries in his undefeated 103 from 207 balls, as Lightning closed the second day on 256 for 8, still 104 short of the follow-on target and 253 adrift of the Warriors record total of 509 for 9 declared.

The Pembroke man gave one difficult chance on 81, David Scanlon (2-47) the unlucky bowler, but stayed resolute as Warriors applied the pressure with penetrative bowling and attacking fields.

Craig Young (2-44) struck in the first over, dismissing Ed Joyce, but Balbirnie and Jack Tector added 104 in 114 balls for the second wicket to settle Lightning’s nerves after their marathon 137 over spell in the field.

Tector stroked 9 fours in his 53 from 64 balls, but thereafter the Warriors attack chipped away, capturing wickets at crucial stages.

John Anderson (1) fell to Boyd Rankin (1-63) on the stroke of tea, David Rankin taking the catch behind – the younger sibling wearing the gloves due to Niall O’Brien’s absence through illness following his epic 440-minute stay at the crease.

Sean Terry (16) played second fiddle to Balbirnie in a 52-run stand, but his dismissal sparked a golden final period for the visitors as the Irish quartet of Kevin O’Brien (12), Simi Singh (4), George Dockrell (4) and Lorcan Tucker (6) all fell cheaply.

Skipper McBrine has conceded just 10 runs in his 14 overs to date (9 maidens) while picking up the wicket of O’Brien, while Stuart Thompson (1-65) and Ross Allen (1-4) were the other wicket takers.

Earlier Stuart Thompson (148) and Niall O’Brien (165) extended their record partnership to a mammoth 308 in 72.5 overs, as Lightning wilted.

David Rankin’s unbeaten 52 from 56 balls (5 fours, 2 sixes) ensured Warriors passed the psychological 500-run barrier before McBrine declared at lunch.

It will take a special effort by Warriors on the final day to force the 12 wickets they need, but the momentum is with them, and their play fully deserves their first win against Lightning in the longer format.