Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
BOYD Rankin is set to return to the North West Warriors side for their next T20 Trophy clash against Northern Knights at The Lawn on Tuesday.
Ireland’s strike bowler, who missed the recent World Cup Super League games against England with a back problem, has been given the all clear by physio Mark Rausa to return to action next week and if the big Bready man is raring to go will return to lead the Warriors attack.
His return will be a boost for a side which has now lost their first two games of the season, following the 24 runs, rain-affected, defeat by Leinster Lightning in Dublin yesterday.
The game started late because of rain and, after another interruption, was reduced to 12 overs but that was more than enough time for Kevin O’Brien to show he remains a heavy-hitting class act in the shortest format.
Opening the batting, as usual, he was out to the last ball of the innings for a memorable 82 from 37 balls.
At the other end, his four partners contributed 35 from the other 35 balls. O’Brien hit three fours and eight huge sixes, one of which he was regretting last night because he smashed the back window of his sponsored car!
With the help of 11 extras, Lightning finished on 124-4 and that was increased, under the DLS system to a Warriors’ victory target of 129.
For the second successive game, William Porterfield led the way while wickets fell steadily at the other end.
The former Ireland captain was out the ball after bringing up his 50 from 29 balls – just four deliveries slower than O’Brien’s - the second of Simi Singh’s three wickets.
But the day was all about O’Brien and his brother, Niall, must be wondering how he has not got him a county contract for the T20 Blast.
A rare false stroke brought him his first six, when he top edged the third ball of the innings, his second, over the third man boundary but that only inspired him to take on all-comers.
He greeted Graham Kennedy by hitting his first ball for six over extra cover and then Andy McBrine was heaved out of the ground over deep mid-wicket, the first of two successive sixes off the Warriors skipper.
Graham Hume was the only bowler not to suffer – O’Brien could manage only one four off him – and the Coleraine paceman caused the early damage to dismiss Stephen Doheny, Lorcan Tucker and Curtis Campher in the space of seven balls to reduce Lightning to 31-3.
But until Craig Young struck with the final ball of the innings it was the O’Brien show, supported quietly by Singh’s run-a-ball 25.
It was the start of a bad day for Campher who has got a rude awakening after his heroics against England when he started his international career with back to back 50s and a wicket. He is still waiting for his first wicket and yesterday his two overs went for 30 runs.
It is also a steep learning curve for young Nathan McGuire as opener and David Rankin failed yet again as Peter Chase and Josh Little took wickets in their opening overs.
When Stuart Thompson, Hume, to a superb diving catch by Lightning captain George Dockrell and McBrine all followed in quick succession, Lightning were well on their way to another comfortable victory.