Two declarations and a staggering 68 ‘extras’ in an innings told the story of the second day of The Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Championship action between the Northern Knights and Leinster Lightning at Stormont.
Having drawn their opening game at Castle Avenue just a week ago, the odds are now heavily stacked on a repeat in this one, but the contest is a long way from being over.
Visiting skipper, John Anderson, decided against trying to build on his side’s impressive tally- and indeed his own- as he began the morning by declaring the Dubliners’ first innings on their overnight 306 for 3. It was a bold move from the Leinster captain seeking to put pressure on the Knights with early wickets.
The home side’s reply began just as confidently however as Nikolai Smith and Chris Dougherty took advantage of some desperately wayward bowling from the visitors- interspersed with some quality stroke-play- to post a century stand for the first wicket.
Tyrone Kane finally split the openers at the start of the 27th over, having Smith caught by Jamie Grassi for 52 (9 fours) before Dougherty (38) and James Shannon (5) were dismissed in quick succession by Eddie Richardson.
At 138 for 3 Lightning had edged back in front but another excellent stand between Jamie Holmes and Greg Thompson restored parity. George Dockrell (2-53) got through 28 overs in the course of the day and it was he who ended that combination, bowling Thompson for 43 (5 fours).
Holmes faced 128 deliveries before falling to Simi Singh (2-31)- the batsman’s 53 including 3 fours and a six, and although Lightning saw off Shane Getkate and Gary Kidd without much fuss, Graeme McCarter then held the lower-middle together with a fine 42 not out (3 fours and 2 sixes).
McCarter was kept company by Jason Mulder (16) as the home side passed Lightning’s score however once the latter was trapped leg before by Richardson (3-55), Shannon declared - not wanting to give Lightning a fourth bowling point, and also trying to get wickets late in the day.
A lead of 14 was hardly significant in the grander scheme of things but how Anderson’s men contributed to their own downfall by sending down 31 byes, 14 leg byes, 14 no-balls and 9 wides.
Dom Joyce and Sean Terry were charged with seeing out the last seven overs but McCarter was to have the final say on an intriguing day - having Joyce caught behind for 8 in the 5th. Terry and Anderson saw it through to the end after that as Leinster closed on 19-1; a lead of five going into the final day.
Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Championship
At Stormont, Day of 3
Leinster Lightning 306-3 dec (90 overs; J Anderson 135*, D Joyce 71) and 17-1
Northern Knights 320-8 dec (94.4 overs, J Holmes 53, Nikolai Smith 52, G Thompson 43, G McCarter 42*, C Dougherty 38, E Richardson 3-55, S Singh 2-31, G Dockrell 2-53)
Continues Thursday at 11am