An exceptional 145 from Andre Malan helped CSNI progress to the Irish Senior Cup quarter-final with a 14-run DLS victory over North Down at The Green.
Having won the toss and elected to bat under stand-in captain Gary Wilson, CSNI posted a total of 244-6 with Malan crashing his score from 141 balls, including 14 fours and two sixes.
The South African has started the 2019 season off in superb fashion, picking up where he left off last year, and looked comfortable from the very first ball on what wasn’t an easy wicket to bat on.
His innings is even more incredible when you take into account the shoulder injury he sustained last week against Instonians which meant he couldn’t bowl when CSNI took to the field to defend their total.
“It’s always good to contribute to a win - especially against a team like North Down,” said Malan. “They were a little bit on top of us this season after beating us in the league game and in two Twenty20s, so it was good to come out as winners once.
“For the club, going into the next round of the Irish Cup is always special.
“I am just glad for the team and our supporters.”
He put on a stand of 108 for the third wicket with Wilson (28) and the overseas professional says it’s great to be able to share the field with a player of his calibre on a regular basis.
“Gary is so important to the club and very special to the club as well,” he added. “Everyone was ecstatic that he was coming back from his County career in England.
“It’s wonderful to have him back not just for the runs he scores, but the experience and calm mindset he brings to the team.”
In reply, North Down had Jamie Magowan ran out without a run on the board and that was further compounded when Nathan Burns was caught behind off the bowling of Graeme McCarter.
McCarter, who has arguably been the best bowler in the NCU this season, picked up three in total including the crucial scalp of Ruhan Pretorius (58) before North Down were 15 short when the second deluge arrived in Comber.
“I made a joke with him earlier because last year he couldn’t bowl here and now this year I’m the one that couldn’t bowl!” Malan said of McCarter. “I’m glad he picked up a few wickets and he’s bowling extremely well this season.
“It’s great to have him for the whole season as well.”
When a club brings in an overseas professional, they hope that they will make a big impact in key games, and that is something Malan has done on a consistent basis.
He scored over 900 runs last season and took in excess of 30 wickets, and the 27-year-old is getting more familiar with conditions after a campaign under his belt.
“I’m happy with my form,” he added. “I’m more used to the league now having played last season and got used to the pitches.
“Last season was a very new experience, but now I’m trying to be patient to leave myself more time at the end of innings whereas last year I chucked away my runs a little bit.
“We are just halfway through the season, so hopefully the second half can go as planned.”