Thursday 20 June 2019

Hills begin final countdown

Cricket: Leinster Senior League Cup Semi-final

Paul Byrne

The Hills will host Phoenix in the final of the inaugural Leinster Senior League Cup this weekend after a hard-fought victory over Pembroke on Saturday.

It looked like it would be a quick afternoon's work for The Hills after they had bowled Pembroke out for just 114 runs in 34.5 overs, but the Fingal side made hard work of reaching that target before eventually getting the job done with seven overs to spare.

The Hills will probably go into the final as slight favourites, having already narrowly beaten Phoenix last month in the group stages, but they will need to improve with the bat if they are to finish their league cup campaign with victory in the final.

The Hills came into this semi-final match full of confidence, having won all their six group games to finish at the summit in section A.

Having topped the group, the Fingal side were afforded the luxury of home advantage against Pembroke at The Vineyard and the home side won the toss and elected to bowl as the rain began to clear.

Fiachra Tucker and Andrew Balbirnie opened for Pembroke, but the visitors were hit with an early setback as the latter was caught and bowled by Daya Singh after just seven balls.

Theophilus Lawson came in next for Pembroke and alongside Tucker helped his side reach 33 before he was dismissed by Naseer Shoukat. A six from Tucker helped Pembroke pass the 50 mark, but just as he was getting into his stride his batting partners began dropping like flies.

Pembroke lost Dane Heverin for just 7 and Shaheen Khan for a duck as the visitors slumped to 59/4.

Tucker and Jack Balbirnie steadied the ship somewhat, with Balbirnie scoring 18, while Tucker reached 40 to help Pembroke pass the 80 mark.

Momentum then swung back towards The Hills when Joey Carroll claimed the wicket of Tucker and his departure triggered a collapse as Balbirnie, Paul Lawson, Robin Kelly and Diarmaid Tucker all went cheaply to leave Pembroke teetering on the edge with the scoreboard reading 96/9.

Daya Singh and Naseer Shoukat did most of the damage for The Hills, with each claiming three wickets to put The Hills well in control.

Pembroke did manage to extend their innings a bit longer thanks to a welcome 16 not out from Gavin Hoey, but ultimately they were all out for a disappointing 114 runs.

The Hills began the modest chase with Cormac McLoughin-Gavin and Bhavesh Lakhothia opening and it was the latter who was first to depart the scene as Shaheen Khan struck for the visitors in the sixth over.

Joey Carroll was next in for The Hills, but he could only muster a couple of runs before he was run out by Balbirnie.

There must have been a few worried faces around The Vineyard following Mark Donegan's cheap dismissal as he was caught by Jack Balbirnie having scored just 4. That left The Hills on 41/3 after 18 overs and suddenly the home side were under a bit of pressure.

That was relieved somewhat by a useful 15 from Daya Singh which helped The Hills reach 70 at the half-way point. However, there was renewed hope for Pembroke as Singh and McLoughlin-Gavin were dismissed in successive overs.

A crisis for the hosts was averted, however, as Tomas Rooney Murphy led the home side to victory with an unbeaten 14.

The Hills: Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin, Bhavesh Lakhothia, Joey Carroll, Mark Donegan, Daya Singh, Gregory Lamb, Tomas Rooney-Murphy, Devender Ranolia, Andrew Kavanagh Luke Clinton, Naseer Shoukat.

Fingal Independent