Iqbal stars as Strabane don't pay the penalty
Strabane's quest for a third league title in four years got off to a winning start as they overcame the imposition of 18 penalty runs for slow play to record a six wicket win at home to Bonds Glen.
Their new overseas professional, Pakistan international Faisla Iqbal had an immediate impact as he made a quite brilliant 61 not out from just 58 balls (8 fours), sharing in a 90 run stand for the fourth wicket with 15 Aaron Gillespie.
The pair had come together at 91 for 3, after Strabane in pursuit of 197 for victory, had lost three wickets for just 8 runs, following an opening stand of 83 between Niall McDonnell (28) and Kevin Martin (33).
There were a few nerves as 15 year-old Gillespie took time to settle, but he was soon showing his undoubted talent, and looks destined for a long and successful career at the club.
Iqbal looks as if he will torment many a NW bowling attack this year, as he showed great power and placement, being particularly strong through the covers.
Despite the best efforts of professional Gihan Dilruk (3-28) and new skipper Richard Hepburn (1-16), Strabane reached their target with 11.5 overs to spare.
Earlier Willie Jackson (45) and Keith Hamilton (43) had helped the Bee Gees to a defendable 196 all out, boosted by 18 penalty runs after umpires Nigel McElwee and Alfie Dunn ruled that they had overan their allotted time in which to complete the innings.
David Robinson (26) and Richard Rodgers (22) both played useful cameos, but it was a tall order after Phil Eaglestone (3-28) had removed the top order of Roy Robinson (4), Johnny Haslett (1) and Gihan Dilruk (0).
Ryan Patton justified the decison of the Strabane selectors to opt for him over his older brother Ciaran, as he picked up 3 for 23, dismissing Hamilton, Jackson and Rodgers.
Tommy Barr (2-26), Martin Deans (1-27), and Aaron Gillespie (1-32) were the other wicket takers.
On this eveidence it looks like another season of struggle for Bonds Glen, who didn't help their cause by conceding 36 wides, while Strabane will be hoping for further trophy success - if they manage to bowl their overs in time!