CIYMS and Instonians all set for Challenge Cup final stage

Allen Coulter on show for CIYMS. Pic by Pacemaker.
Allen Coulter on show for CIYMS. Pic by Pacemaker.
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Today marks the biggest match on the NCU calendar as CIYMS and Instonians clash in the Gallagher Challenge Cup final at The Green, Comber (11am start).

Both sides have reached the final five times this decade and have actually met twice in that run, with CIYMS running out victors on both occasions.

There is no shortage of Irish internationals and experience on show in what is sure to be a hotly-contested encounter in front of a big crowd.

Key battles

Allen Coulter vs Josh Manley - Both have a knack of picking up big, early important wickets and both sides will be looking for their strike bowler to turn up on the big occasion.

CI’s Coulter was the best bowler in the NCU last season and has picked up another 29 wickets this season while Manley announced his introduction to the local scene with four wickets in the quarter-final against Waringstown.

Manley made his first-class debut for the Northern Knights this weekend and will be keen to mark his first Challenge Cup final with a big performance.

Mark Adair vs Shane Getkate - Perhaps two of the best all-rounders in the NCU, both have announced themselves on the international stage in recent months with Ireland.

Adair is absolutely box office and it seems the bigger the stage, the better he plays - as shown by his performance against England at Lord’s - and he has the potential to win the match with bat and ball.

The same can be said for Getkate, who is Instonians’ X-Factor player and is playing in his fourth Challenge Cup final.

Player to watch

CIYMS: Jacob Mulder - Mulder has had arguably his best season to date so far having picked up 32 wickets and chipped in with important runs.

Captain Nigel Jones will turn to Mulder in the middle overs, who is just one part of a deadly spin quartet that also contains James Cameron-Dow, Obus Pienaar and Ted Britton.

Instonians: Murray Commins - Things didn’t go quite to plan for Commins this week with the Knights, scoring just one run in two innings, but he has been showing glimpses of his massive potential.

A classy left-handed batsman who will come in at three, this could be the stage for the South African to hit yet another big score for Instonians.

Storylines

Fearless young guns lead Instonians to victory? - Instonians will have at least five players making their Challenge Cup final debut in a squad that is led by Andrew White, who is incredibly playing in his 10th final.

Opening batsman Ollie Metcalfe is the best batsman in the NCU at his age and has seriously impressed at various points throughout the campaign, while James Hunter was ‘Man-of-the-Match’ in the semi-final.

The young cohorts, who have the experienced White, Getkate and Nikolai Smith to help them through, are an exciting bunch and won’t be overawed by the occasion.

Number two of five for CI? - CIYMS set out for complete domination at the start of this season and had their eyes on every trophy, so success today could tick off number two of a potential five trophies in 2019.

Led by the inspirational Jones (who loves a Challenge Cup final), CI’s star-studded line-up will be looking to create some history across this season.