It was a game of contrasting fortunes for Lurgan player Callum Grieve at Pollock Park on Saturday.
The Lurgan all-rounder spilled a difficult second ball catch off Muckamore batsman Richard Keates and was then one of the Lurgan bowlers to suffer as Keates blasted a 13 ball half century, one of the quickest, if not the quickest in NCU history.
However Grieve hit back with the bat, sharing a match winning 175 run third wicket partnership with professional Niranjan Godbole to steer the Town to an excellent 6 wicket victory.
On winning the toss Muckamore decided to bat on a flat batting track and were soon in trouble with two men back in the pavilion with just 24 runs on the board. Oliver McCollum struck first, trapping Drummond leg before for 3 and then Grieve had Gill caught by Peter Haire for just 10. A half century partnership between Gordon and Magowan brought the visitors back into the game before Magowan was run out for 52 with the total on 80.
Andrew Bingham, whose recent return to the then chipped in with 2 wickets, the second of which could have been game changing as he had the dangerous Ryan Haire well caught by Jack Harrison for 19 in the 36th over with the total on 117.
At this stage Lurgan were in control and with 10 overs to go the visitors were 137 for 5. The total moved on to 156 for 6 in the 45th over when Richard Keates strode to the crease. Although dropped second ball, it was an explosive innings as Keates hit 6 sixes and 2 fours in a 13 ball half century to completely swing the game in Muckamore’s favour.
Ably supported by Neil Gill who was undefeated on 52, they added an incredible 86 in the last five overs to set Lurgan a target of 247 to win the game. However, the beauty of cricket is in the unexpected. Having had four sixes hit off his last over, it was a purposeful Callum Grieve who along with Stephen Johnston began the Lurgan reply and it was early aggression from Johnston that set the tone for the innings. Having just clipped Gill to fine leg for four to reach 21, he tried to repeat the shot to an in swinging delivery from the same bowler only for it to hit leg stump. And with the half century just reached, Stephen Chambers nicked a delivery from Haire that looked like it bounced a bit higher than expected and he was caught behind by Magowan for 17.
This brought Niranjan Godbole to the crease and he and Grieve slowly began to quieten the vociferous Muckamore fielders. Neither batsman looked in any great danger with Grieve gaining revenge for the earlier onslaught against him by playing some beautiful straight drives and shots off his legs while Godbole, batting with an injured hand, punished anything short and played his trademark late cuts and off drives. Godbole, on 99, looked like he was about to notch up yet another century when he hit a powerful off drive straight to mid-off where Adey hung on to a stinging catch.
Grieve’s excellent innings ended on 82, caught leg side off his gloves by keeper Magowan off the bowling of Keates. The fact both wickets fell to virtual silence from the Muckamore fielders indicated they realised the scoreboard was showing the job virtually complete. With just 17 runs needed, Peter Maxwell (13no) and Peter Haire (2no) took Lurgan over the line to complete the win in the 48th over.
This Saturday they are away to Section leaders Derriaghy where a quality performance will be needed.
The game on Saturday was sponsored by Peter and Myrtle Wright.