The North West Warriors kept the Hanley Energy Interprovincial T20 Trophy alive at Eglinton on Friday evening after Andy McBrine’s men recorded an entertaining and narrow win over the Northern Knights. Persistent rain throughout the day meant a late start and a 14-overs per side contest and on winning the toss, visiting skipper Lee Nelson had no hesitation in asking the Warriors to bat first.
David Rankin and Ricky-lee Dougherty opened the innings and had reached 14-0 in the 4th over before the heavens opened again. Another substantial delay saw the game cut still further, just a maximum of 11 each from there, so the pace increased dramatically at that point.
Gary Kidd got the breakthrough as he bowled Dougherty for 11 but that brought Stuart Thompson to the middle and the in-form all-rounder relished the chance to entertain on his home ground. Thompson set about building a 62-run partnership with Rankin that took just 5 overs, and although both fell to Lee Nelson in the last over, they had given their side a chance.
Thompson’s 42 came off just 22 balls (2 fours and 4 sixes) while Rankin added 34 from 25 (3 sixes) as the Warriors closed on 96 for 3, revised on DLS to 99. Skipper Nelson’s 2-12 was the pick of the visitors’ attack.
The Knights lost Chris Dougherty to Graeme McCarter early on but they looked to be well in control as James Shannon and Shane Getkate responded positively with some aggressive batting. That pair took the score to 74-1 after 8 overs, leaving the batting side needing 26 from the last three, before Craig Young removed Getkate for 26 (2 fours and a six).
The Bready man did for Nelson in the same over and all of a sudden the home side were back in it. McCarter removed Alistair Shields for 3 soon after and the impetus had now completely swung the Warriors way. Compounded by the fact that they couldn’t get the very impressive Shannon on strike, the runs had dried up and Craig Young was left to defend 13 in the final over.
And defend it he did, with just 4 off his first five deliveries in what was a superb piece of “death” bowling. Shannon, finally getting a go, clubbed the final ball for six, but it was totally irrelevant by that stage, affecting only the margin of defeat.
The Instonians man was left stranded on 57 not out (29 balls- 6 fours and 3 sixes) while McCarter (2-8 from 2 overs) and Young (2-29 from 3) showed their quality with the ball.
Speaking after the match a delighted Warriors Head Coach, Bobby Rao, was full of praise for his charges. “We have played some really good cricket since our defeat at Stormont at the start of the season.
"The spirit in our camp is really strong- these boys would fight to the last for each other as you have seen today. We are getting stronger as this side grows together and that improvement is there for all to see. I couldn’t be more proud of the team after turning that game right around."