Leinster Lightning began the defence of their Hanley Energy Interprovincial Cup with an impressive win over the Northern Knights at a blustery Stormont.
An unbroken fifth wicket 148-run partnership between Kevin O’Brien and Andrew Poynter was to seal the decisive six-wicket victory; however this was a solid showing from the Dubliners in every discipline.
Nigel Jones opted to bat first on winning the toss but the new Knights’ skipper and then Waringstown’s Lee Nelson were both dismissed by Eddie Richardson at the start of the third over to leave the home side reeling early on.
Chris Dougherty and Mansoor Amjad then took the score to 39 before the latter was caught behind by Fintan McAllister off the bowling of Tyrone Kane.
Dougherty (32) continued to anchor the innings as he and Jamie Holmes (42) got the Knights back into it with a half century stand but the real impetus was to come from Greg Thompson. Batting at number seven Thompson made an even time 61 that included 7 fours and a six that allowed the Knights to post a competitive 221 all out.
Richardson (3-40) was the pick of the Lightning attack, but he was well backed up by Yaqoob Ali (2-24), Kane (2-32) and Kevin O’Brien (2-32) who each claimed a brace.
McAllister and Dom Joyce started the reply well before both were dismissed for 30 and when John Anderson and Simi Singh followed cheaply, the Knights would have felt they had a chance at 78 for 4.
O’Brien and Poynter had other ideas however and in typically aggressive fashion they brought their side home with more than six overs to spare. O’Brien hit 8 fours and 3 sixes (including two in the final over off Gary Kidd) in his unbeaten 89 while Poynter – dropped twice – made the most of the reprieve striking seven boundaries in his 56 not out.
Graeme McCarter, on debut for the Knights having switched from the North West Warriors was the pick of the home attack claiming 2-35 from his 10 overs while Jones and Kidd were the other wicket-takers.
It may have been the first day of a busy Interprovincial summer but you sense this was a clear message that Leinster are fully intent on keeping their silverware in Dublin.
Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Cup
Northern Knights 221 all out (49.4 overs; G Thompson 61, J Holmes 42, C Dougherty 32, E Richardson 3-40, Y Ali 2-24, K O’Brien 2-32, T Kane 2-32) lost to Leinster Lightning 226-4-43.4 (K O’Brien 89*, A Poynter 56*, D Joyce 30, F McAllister 30, G McCarter 2-35) by 6 wickets.