WARINGSTOWN are through to the last 16 of the Bob Kerr Irish Cup but the holders began the defence of the trophy with a nervy home performance against Strabane.
The holders did well in the field to restrict the North West side to just 177 all out batting first and appeared to be cruising towards the target in reply as openers Simon Harrison and James Hall battered the Strabane bowling.
Hall and Harrison added 62 runs inside 10 overs before the latter tried one big shot too many and was on his way back to the pavilion after making 25 from only 31 balls.
The momentum barely slowed however as Hall continued on his merry way and at 77 for one in the thirteenth over, there seemed to be no way back for Strabane.
However, Lee Nelson walked across his stumps and was bowled but even then Waringstown only needed 101 to win off 37 overs, a task which should have represented a walk in the park.
Hall had batted beautifully, hitting seven fours and a six in 42 from just 37 balls but he smashed a long-hop to mid-wicket where he was well taken. Shortly afterwards Jonathan Bushe attempted to hit over the top and was caught at mid-on.
By now much appeared to hinge on Kyle McCallan and the Waringstown captain was looking composed until he was adjudged caught off the arm in close off Tommy Barr.
Waringstown were deep in the mire on 122 for six, with Iqbal having taken three 24.
However, with the pressure firmly on, Waringstown’s seven-wicket pair Andrew Cousins and David Dawson held firm to take the villagers home, even if they had a helping hand from some strange Strabane tactics.
Conditions definitely favoured the slow bowlers, but it was still bizarre to see Phil Eaglestone, once Ireland’s new-ball bowler and still a superb operator at this level when the mood takes him, reintroduced into the attack bowling left-arm spin.
By the time Eaglestone turned back to seam, the horse had bolted and a 39-run stand between Cousins (26) and Dawson, who struck three boundaries in a composed 27 not out, took Waringstown to the brink of victory.
Even then there threatened to be a late twist as Cousins was caught in the deep off a Peter Gillespie full toss, but Dawson hit the winning boundary to seal a second-round tie against Brigade, a repeat of last year’s final.
Earlier in the day Strabane got off to a flying start, as they raced to 50 for one in just the eighth over before Waringstown’s spinners took a grip on proceedings.
Gary Kidd, the former Ireland left-arm spinner, bowled superbly, taking four for 30, including a fine caught and bowled off dangerman Niall McDonnell, and it wasn’t long before the visitors were in the mire on 82 for six.
Only Faisal Iqbal stood between Waringstown and a routine win and with good support from captain Martin Deans (25), he got Strabane towards respectability, even if he should have taken more chances in the closing overs.
Waringstown begin the defence of the Ulster Bank Challenge Cup at home to Carrickfergus on Saturday. The match ball sponsors are Tom Hunter and Harry Carson.