Odran Flynn (CricketEurope)
George Dockrell clubbed three sixes in the final over to reach his maiden Leinster Lightning century, brightening up a blustery Sydney Parade as the home side beat Northern Knights by 70 runs (DLS).
The Lightning slipper came to the wicket at the end of the 25th over with his side struggling at 73-3 on the same pitch that had been used for their opening day win against the NW Warriors.
He lost Saturday’s Man-of-the-Match Jamie Grassi with the total on 109 in the 33rd over but the arrival of Simi Singh prefaced a match winning liaison.
George Dockrell hits the last ball for six to reach his century: Pic by Rodney Smythe
These two have previous when it comes to crucial partnerships (holding the record 215* for the competition at The Hills in 2018) and they did not disappoint.
The next 91 balls saw another 104 runs added and while Singh concentrated in turning the strike over, the value of his 38 off 39 deliveries should not be underestimated.
There was a rain break three balls into the 42nd over with Lightning on 153-4, Dockrell on 34 and Singh on 19. However, they returned refreshed with the final 51 deliveries of the innings being smashed for 98 runs.
When Ruhan Pretorius began the final over of the innings Dockrell was on 81 and it seemed unlikely that he could pass his previous best score in the competition which was 98 in that aforementioned stand, but another straight six of the second ball opened up the possibility.
A single took him off strike and when he got it back, he was on 88 and the tension increased with a majestic strike over extra cover. It was Pretorius who lost his nerve and produced a juicy full toss which Dockrell gratefully launched over deep square leg and he finally had his first ton outside of club cricket.
George Dockrell congratulated by Barry McCarthy after reaching 100. Pic: Rodney Smythe
He now averages a Bradmanesque 124.00 in the interpro cup, making 496 runs, with an impressive strike rate of 101.85. It's incredible to think he wasn't even required to bat until 2017 in the format, such was Leinster's formidable batting resources until it became a List-A event.
Having been put into bat by Knight’s captain Harry Tector, Leinster Lightning produced the proverbial innings of two halves.
Tied down by an impressive spell of medium-fast bowling by Graeme McCarter, Lightning stuttered to 35-1 by the end of the ten over powerplay with the Tyrone-born man conceding just 11 runs off his five overs.
He also got the one wicket to fall enticing Jack Tector to edge the ball through to Neil Rock who now has the opportunity to challenge Lorcan Tucker for the Ireland wicketkeeping job. McCarter bowled his ten overs straight through and performed the role that Tim Murtagh so often produced for Ireland. He finished with 2-27 including bowling an inform Kevin O’Brien all ends up for 37 with his penultimate delivery.
McCarter has not pulled on an Ireland shirt since June 2015 when he was just 22 years old, but a few more performances like this will see him in contention for a place in the squad which faces into a particularly challenging year of international cricket.
Matthew Foster with 1-28 off his eight over was also impressive but the others suffered during the late onslaught. Mark Adair at times looked back to his old self although he still served up too many loose balls but if he gets a few games under his belt that profligacy should reduce.
It was always going to be a difficult chase on a wicket offering some help to the seam bowler but the loss of James McCollum who unfortunately dislocated his shoulder early in the match made the task even harder.
David O'Halloran impressed again for Leinster Lightning. Pic: Rodney Smythe
Paul Stirling pulled Barry McCarthy for six in the first over of the innings but until a late flurry from Adair, the bowlers controlled the chase.
Another spell of rain in the 17th over of the reply with Knights on 56-3 led to a loss of eight overs but a reduction of just 18 runs off the target.
Superb deliveries from Peter Chase to Stirling and McCarthy to Tector ripped through the defences of the Knights two main batters and the innings never got back on track.
Jeremy Lawlor batted steadily for 32 without ever threatening to play a match winning knock. Debutant Luke Georgeson, a New Zealander with an Irish passport who qualifies for Ireland early in 2022, is a compact well organised batter and he top scored with 46.
Luke Georgeson scored 46. Pic: Rodney Smythe
The Knights have a decent attack and will be disappointed that they could not finish the job when they had Lightning on the ropes but on another day, they will get the breakthrough.
The new format does appear to be more competitive, but Lightning are still the team to beat.
Their bowling attack is well balanced, they will be delighted that young David O’Halloran got his first two List A wickets, bowling with accuracy, while generating a fair degree of pace and bounce.
Next up is the IP50 debut of Munster Reds when they travel to Eglington on Thursday to take on the Warriors.
Once again Ian Callender will be on ball-by-ball commentary for CricketEurope. Action gets under way at 10:45am.
Scores: Leinster Lightning 251-6 off 50 overs (G. Dockrell 100*, S. Singh 38, G. McCarter 2-27, M. Adair 2-57) beat Northern Knights by 70 runs (D/L), 163 off 38.1 overs (Target 234 off 42 overs) (L. Georgeson 46, M. Adair 36, P. Chase 3-37, D. O’Halloran 2-20)