ANDREW BALBIRNIE scored an unbeaten century as Leinster Lightning overcame a poor start to beat the NW Warriors by 19 runs (D/L) in the opening match of the Newstalk Inter-Provincial Series at The Hills.
Balbirnie shared a match winning stand of 187 in just 128 balls with Kevin O’Brien, after Lightning had been reeling on 46 for 4 chasing 286. The Middlesex opener scored a run a ball undefeated 103, which included 13 fours and 2 sixes, as the bat dominated the ball on a wonderful track at Milverton. Irish international O’Brien was at his destructive best, smashing 98 from just 67 balls (11 fours, 3 sixes) before his match winning stand with Balbirnie was ended in the unluckiest of circumstances. A fierce drive from Balbirnie was deflected onto the stumps via the boot of Johnny Thompson with O’Brien stranded out of his crease. Thompson had earlier dismissed Ben Ackland (0) and John Anderson (10), with his namesake Stuart accounting for Andrew Poynter (8) as Lightning struggled against the new ball. Craig Young had also bowled Railway Union’s Patrick Collins (0) as the Lightning target of 286 looked very distant. As usually happens following a lengthy partnership, there was a flurry of wickets as John Mooney (4) and Eddie Richardson (0) both fell victim to Andy McBrine (2-50) in quick , and the game was set for a thrilling finish before the rain intervened with Lightning on 254-7, 19 ahead on D/L. Persistent drizzle forced the players from the field at5.40pm, and with no improvement in conditions play was abandoned by the officials at 6:30pm. Earlier, an impressive batting display had allowed the Warriors to post an impressive 285 for 4, with half centuries for Johnny and Stuart Thompson, as well as Jason Milligan (61). The Thompsons shared an unbroken 5th wicket stand of 105 in 77 deliveries, with Johnny’s 66 coming from just 47 balls, which included 5 sixes and 4 fours. Niall McDonnell (40) and David Rankin (33) were also among the runs, with only Andy McBrine (6) failing to make a meaningful contribution. The next Inter-Provincial action takes place at Coleraine on May 26, when the Warriors host the Northern Knights in another IP50 encounter. Before then Ireland take on Sri Lanka this week in the RSA Insurance ODI Series at Clontarf (Tuesday May 6 and Thursday May 8. 10:45am).