NIGEL Jones highlighted the balance of his squad after CIYMS claimed their second trophy of the season.

The CI skipper was one of three wickets to fall in the first five overs with just 12 runs on the board in the Challenge Cup final, but he had no regrets about choosing to bat first.

“I looked at the track and it was a bat first wicket and with our balance of pace and spin you can back yourself to do that. Runs on the board was the way to go,” he said.

“It didn’t took good at 12-3 but credit to Jason van der Merwe and our professional, Obus Pienaar, they stayed calm, put on a partnership and got us back in the game. When Mark Adair arrived at the crease that innings was key. He could have taken the game on and risked losing another wicket but, in fairness, it was a mature knock (of 63 from 55 balls). He put the bad ball away and getting 200 in a final is always a tough score to chase on a slow, low wicket.

In the end, as Jones admitted, “we won comfortably” by 98 runs and although Adair pipped van der Merwe to the man of the match award, the captain was keen to praise his reliable, and in-form, batsman.

“Jason had the pressure of leading the recovery but he had scored 80 in the T20 final recently and now 50 in this one so he has played two crucial innings. But he is a quality player and I expect him to do that when needed.”

It was a fourth successive winners’ medal for van der Merwe in six finals as he had already picked up two with Civil Service North in 2014 and in 2016 when they defeated CIYMS, before switching to Belmont where he also appeared in the 2017 final against Instonians, who have now lost their last four Challenge Cup deciders.

The Shaw’s Bridge side, however, received a boost on Saturday when Muckamore, the team they currently share bottom spot in the Premier League table with, lost to North Down. As a result, they remain on eight points having played three games more than Instonians.

Muckamore did give themselves a sniff of victory when, trying to defend 112, they took three wickets for eight runs to reduce the Comber side to 100-6, but Ross Ewing ended the game in a hurry with a six and four from successive balls.

The damage had been done in the first innings however, as Muckamore lost their first four wickets for just seven runs with Peter Eakin starting a memorable weekend by taking three in his first nine balls and finishing with 5-23. He was then the dominant batsman in the North Down reply with six boundaries in his 39, a score bettered only by Muckamore’s Steve Lazars’ 48.

Carrickfergus followed up their victory over CIYMS last week with a four wickets victory at The Lawn, Jamie Holmes seeing his side to their revised target of 121 with an undefeated 66.

On a difficult pitch, Lee Nelson, batting in place of James McCollum at No 3, scored 63 for Waringstown and a run-a-ball 26 not out from Kyle McCallan at the end, got the home side home to 178-5 in their 41 overs.

Carrick’s reply was twice interrupted by rain but the DLS adjustment still worked in their favour because of Waringstown’s below par total and they had 16 balls to spare when Holmes hit his sixth four to go with three sixes.

In the other game, Faiz Fazal finished 99 not out in Lisburn 157-8 but Civil Service North eased to victory with a undefeated fourth wicket stand of 107 between Graeme McCarter (64) and James Kennedy (34).