Moment of magic from Pretorius keeps North Down ahead in title race

Ruhan Pretorius produced a moment of magic to swing the game North Down's way
Ruhan Pretorius produced a moment of magic to swing the game North Down's way

It’s often said that catches win matches, but occasionally so do moments of individual brilliance which you can only admire and applaud.

At Comber on Saturday Muckamore were seemingly well placed at 87-2 in the 20th over in pursuit of North Down’s total of 274, their professional Kagiso Rapulana had just joined Ifty Hussain who was batting freely in the middle.

Rapulana yet to get off the mark stroked the ball into the covers and took a few paces down the pitch looking for the single. Ruhan Pretorius his opposite number swooped and in one movement picked up and with a single stump to aim at, unleashed; Rapulana was left face down on the deck, his despairing dive to no avail.

Muckamore’s batting order had been unsettled due to a knee ligament injury sustained by regular opener Sam Gordon in the field, deputy Jamie Magowan had done a more than admirable job as replacement adding 71 for the second wicket with Hussain.

The visitor’s regrouped with Ifty and Ryan Haire back at his former club, pacing it beautifully, partnership on 69, 156 off 30 overs, but Ifty seemed unsettled perhaps tiredness setting in as he lofted Peter Eakin to Peter Davison.

Next ball Haire got a faint touch to Jay Hunter and walked without looking at the umpire. You sensed that was it and pretty much it was, Ifty’s 78 contained 7 fours and 2 sixes. Two wickets each for Pretorius, Carl Robinson and Eakin.

Earlier North Down had three individual half centuries and two century partnerships. After Muckamore had made the perfect start with Gary Nicholl removing Danny Graham and Ally Shields both to superb catces, Gordon in the gully and Haire at first slip, Nathan Burns and Pretorius added 110.

Pretorius (67, 71 balls, 8x4’s 2x6’s) was flawless until he inexplicably pulled Aditche Adey to Haire. Eakin stepped and was staright on the gas with 79 frpom 70 balls, 5x4’s and 4x6’s.

Through it all Burns was impeccable at the other end the perfect foil, 125 deliveries for 98, until he was hit in front by Gill, denied the ton he richly deserved. The anguish was plain for all to see as he trudged slowly off looking around as though waiting to be told it’s a mistake.

Over at The Lawn the Waringstown machine is starting to look move menacingly once more. A 115 run victory over CSNI; the platform once again provided by the excellence of Adam Dennison’s batting.

Century partnerships first with James Hall (70 off 79 balls, 6x4’s, 3x6’s), then James McCollum 40 from 45 balls, before he was dismissed for 123 (146 balls, 9x4’s 4x6’s). There was even time for Shaheen Khan to blast 41 off 18 balls in atotal of 302-3.

Graeme McCarter top scored in the reply with 59 and Warinstown skipper Greg Thompson showed finished with four balls, 2-4.