No shocks in NCU Challenge Cup
Alistair Bushe (News Letter)
ANYONE expecting a good old fashioned shock or two in the NCU Challenge Cup second round on Saturday would have ended the evening disappointed.
North Down and CIYMS were considered to be two clubs vulnerable to an upset, but they recorded crushing victories over Ballymena and Muckamore respectively.
Without the presence of professional Craig McMillan, CI would have been wary of a talented Muckamore side and for a while at least, the Section One club looked poised to make it an uncomfortable afternoon for Barry Cooper’s men.
They certainly delivered with the bat, with teenager Jason van der Merwe again underlining his huge potential with a superb century.
The Ireland under age star struck 14 boundaries in his 101 from 131 balls, with sturdy support coming from Wayne Horwood, the opening batsman. The left hander struck six fours and two sixes in his 58 as Muckamore closed on 214 for six.
The pitch at Belmont was probably a little too paced, but CI were quickly ahead of the rate thanks to a blistering early contribution from opener Neil Gelston. The former Downpatrick man had a disappointing season with the bat in 2009, but struck eight boundaries in his 41 from just 39 balls..
With Cooper playing the anchor role, Ben McCord, the New Zealander, made his first major batting contribution of the season. He struck seven fours and two sixes in his 59 from 86 balls.
With Cooper unbeaten on 77 from 122 balls, including nine fours and a six, CI strolled home with more than seven overs to spare.
It was even easier for North Down. They conquered their Eaton Park demons by thrashing Ballymena by 145 runs, courtesy of a remarkable opening partnership between Neil Russell and Andrew Sutherland.
The left hand, right hand combination added 247 in 42.5 overs. Russell smashed 123 from just 126 balls, including 10 fours and six sixes for his fourth senior century, while Sutherland, who looks a much more accomplished batsman at the top of the order, hit 105 from 127 balls. He struck 13 fours and a six.
Even when the openers departed, it was the signal for more carnage as the Ballymena bowling went to all parts of Eaton Park. From the last 43 balls alone, 93 runs were plundered. Ryan Haire struck three sixes and one four in his 30 from just 13 balls while Taimur Khan dealt exclusively in boundaries, hitting four fours and a six in making 22 from 10 balls.
A total of 340 for six must be the biggest at Eaton Park in many a season, and it was always going to be far too many for a Ballymena team without a win in league or cup in 2010.
David Kennedy made a fighting 48 against his former club, but with Daniel Harding claiming three for 36, Ballymena were dismissed for just 195 with nine overs unused.
The Kyle McCallan roadshow continued at The Lawn, but Waringstown’s bowlers denied him the opportunity of making a fourth consecutive century against Dundrum.
The Section One side spoiled the party by batting first and achieved respectability, with Joel Maguire (39), captain Alan Tormey (38) and Gavin McNerlin (37) all making good contributions before they were dismissed for 143. Simon Harrison claimed three wickets for the home side.
McCallan and opening partner James Hall then proceeded to accumulate their second century partnership in three matches. Hall was the dominant partner with an unbeaten 83 from just 71 balls, including 15 fours.
McCallan, who passed 500 runs for the campaign without a single dismissal, was 52 not out from 65 balls as the villagers took just 23 overs to book a quarter-final place.
Lisburn and Downpatrick’s third meeting of the season ended with a third consecutive comfortable victory for Greg Thompson’s side at Wallace Park.
The home team batted first and an unbeaten 63 from the captain was the foundation for a fine total of 252 for six. Yasas Tillakaratne contributed 43 and Ryan Ervine 41 while James Cunningham claimed three for 26 for the visitors.
Downpatrick at least made a decent fist of the run chase. Mohammed Farrukh finally found form with 61 while Dale Mullan made 44, but Downpatrick were 42 runs adrift on 210 for nine.
Carrickfergus were convincing seven-wicket winners over Armagh at Middle Road, while Holywood will be the sole Section One representatives in the quarter-final draw.
Australian Seamus Sharkey smashed a superb 100 as they convincingly won the all-Section One tie against Woodvale at Seapark. Holywood rattled up an imposing 276 for six with struggling Woodvale mustering just 129 in reply.