Johnny Morton (www.jmsport.co.uk)
Waringstown and North Down will meet in the Robinson Services Cup final on Sunday (2pm) after they both won their semi-final encounters against CIYMS and Instonians respectively on Saturday at The Green.
In the morning clash, Waringstown progressed on fewer wickets lost after the scores were tied on 124 following the 20 overs with CIYMS all out off the final ball of their innings while Waringstown lost nine wickets.
Nigel Jones (51) top-scored for the second time in as many games after his 42* in their LVS T20 Cup victory at the same venue last Sunday while James Mitchell (4-17) and Lee Nelson (4-33) were the standouts for Waringstown with the ball.
(Catch for Lee Nelson)
The latter picked up all of his wickets in the final over, which turned out to be crucial.
James Hall (47) got Waringstown’s chase off to a flying start and they had reached 90-2 inside 10 overs and looked like they would cruise to victory.
That was before they lost seven wickets for 22 runs in a collapse that almost cost them a spot in the decider but Nelson was the one that secured progression, scoring eight of the required nine to win before handing it over to number 11 batsman Matthew Purse, who blocked out three deliveries from Mark Adair.
It was the Ruhan Pretorius show in the second game as he smashed 120* from 56 balls to help North Down reach 179/3 in their 20 overs.
The 29-year-old blasted nine sixes and seven fours, putting on a 92-run fourth-wicket partnership with Ryan Haire (28*).
That total was always likely to be beyond Instonians but Marcus Poskitt (46) impressed before he was bowled by Peter Eakin as the Shaws Bridge side fell 40 runs short of their D/L target.
Pretorius has struggled with his strike rate at times this season but that will be a forgotten memory now after the destructive innings, making Instonians pay after he was dropped on 25.
(Century for Ruhan Pretorius)
“I got a bit lucky but in T20 cricket you need a bit of luck,” he reflected. “I was dropped early on but I tried to go in with a positive attitude today. Stirlo and I got off to a good start so I just tried to keep positive throughout my innings.
“I’ve thought with how I batted in the last innings with a strike rate of 80 I should just free myself up and back my skills today. I wanted to go and just express myself.
“I’ve been hitting them as good as anything lately. You need a bit of luck in T20 cricket and today was my day. I’m grateful for that and now it’s on to tomorrow.”
It will be a third meeting between North Down and Waringstown this season with the previous two shared one apiece after Waringstown picked up a Robinson Services Cup victory before North Down beat the Villagers in the LVS T20 Cup semi-finals.
Pretorius believes the Comber side will need to be somewhere near their best again if they want to lift the trophy tomorrow in front of home support.
“It’s another North Down vs Waringstown clash.
“They are a very good side so we need to be on the ball again tomorrow.”