The sight of James Cameron-Dow limping badly around the outfield was the only negative for CIYMS as they warmed up for the Challenge Cup final with a convincing win over Civil Service North on Saturday.
Cameron-Dow, the left-arm spinner, was playing his first match since injuring an ankle in freak circumstances in the semi-final win over Waringstown.
He bowled his 10 overs without obvious discomfort - even if he was overshadowed by spin partner Trevor Britton who claimed match-winning figures of six for 15 - but Cameron-Dow’s struggles in the field would have raised eyebrows in the camp of cup final opponents Instonians.
The South African must play in the showpiece at Comber because he is simply too good a bowler for CI to do without. But carrying a passenger in the field can invite pressure, particularly in a high-scoring match where runs leaked, or prevented, in the field can be the difference between winning and losing.
There was never any danger of CI losing this match after CSNI contrived to collapse spectacularly batting first. The Stormont men were 90 for one in the 29th over, decently placed even if their run rate had slowed to almost a crawl following the departure of Jason van der Merwe for 40.
But when captain Andrew Cowden edged behind off Cameron-Dow for 29 from 94 balls, it was the beginning of a death by spin. While Britton bowled well on a pitch conducive to spin there was little excuse for what followed as Shane Getkate, Paddy Beverland, Chris McMorran, Corin Goodall and Ben Adair departed to shots they would rather forget.
At 123 for eight, complete humiliation was looming but Mansoor Amjad belatedly found a willing partner in number 10 Allen Coulter, with whom he added 46 for the ninth wicket.
The Pakistani struck three fours and a six in 50 from 54 balls before he dragged Johnny Thompson onto his stumps in the penultimate over.
A target of 173 could have been tricky but Mansoor was the only CSNI spin bowler who bowled anything like Cowden would have wanted. First he got one to rear off a length and take the shoulder of Chris Dougherty’s bat and then John Matchett edged behind as he attempted to withdraw his bat.
At 63 for two, and given CI’s dramatic collapse against Carrickfergus a weekly previously, CSNI were in the game, but aside from Mansoor (2-14) and the luckless Coulter (0-31) the visitors were toothless during an unbroken third-wicket stand between Rassie van der Dussen and Nigel Jones.
The latter struck nine fours and a six in an unbeaten 62, while van der Dussen’s 79 not out included 10 fours and a six.
Instonians meanwhile overcame a brave performance from Lisburn to win by 44 runs at Shaw’s Bridge.
The champions piled up 294 for seven as Farhad Iqbal top scored with 97 from 112 balls, including 11 fours.
Neil Russell, the captain, struck four fours and four sixes in his 68 from 58 while Eric Layard struck 41 from 32, including five fours and a six.
Few would have given Lisburn a prayer but Robert Rankin hit 10 boundaries in 62 from just 59 balls.
Darryl Brown (55 from 51) joined forces with first Adam Berry (38) and his younger brother Mark (28) and Lisburn were right in the hunt at 244 for six before a late collapse. Eugene Moleon and Iqbal claimed three wickets apiece.