Decision to bowl proves crucial

Lurgan bowler Paul Stafford's appeal is rewarded as Downpatrick's Ringland is given out lbw.
Lurgan bowler Paul Stafford's appeal is rewarded as Downpatrick's Ringland is given out lbw.

Lurgan captain Niranjan Godbole’s decision to bowl on winning the toss was to prove crucial, as Lurgan came away from Downpatrick with four points following a 6 wicket win on Saturday.

On a wicket that was slow and with a low bounce, any runs scored were going to have to be earned, and Lurgan’s opening bowlers Kris Lyness and Callum Gibson proved very miserly in offering the Downpatrick batsmen any runs.

Both bowlers claimed early wickets with Lyness bowling Tate for 10 in his 5th over and Callum Gibson trapping Mullan lbw for 4 an over later to leave the home side struggling on 19 for 2 wickets off 10.

The introduction of the father and son combination of Peter and Jack Maxwell and then Paul Stafford into the attack, was to offer little comfort to the home team as runs were kept to a minimum and by the halfway stage Downpatrick had reached 53 for 3, Peter Maxwell having claimed the third wicket to fall. Then two wickets in two balls from Paul Stafford asserted Lurgan’s authority on the game.

First he had Smyth caught by Lyness at deep mid-off for 16 and next ball, the evergreen spinner had Ringland trapped leg before and Downpatrick were 79 for 5 off 33.

Niranjan Godbole was causing all sorts of bother at the other end and he claimed the wicket of the home side’s top scorer Boultwood, bowling him for 24. Godbole was getting the ball to lift and turn and by the end of the innings he had returned the superb figures of four wickets for 12 runs off 8.4 overs. Had a couple of catches been held off the bowling of Andrew Bingham, then Downpatrick would have struggled to reach the 128 target Lurgan would have to beat for victory.

All of the Town bowlers were in fine form with Paul Stafford taking 2 for 28 off 10, Peter Maxwell 1 for 27 off 10, Callum Gibson 1 for 10 off 6, Kris Lyness 1 for 13 off 6, Andrew Bingham 1 for 21 off 4 and Jack Maxwell 0 for 12 off 3.

Lurgan’s reply got off to a dramatic start when Stephen Johnston cracked an overpitched second ball delivery from Graham straight at the face of Smyth fielding at short mid-off, only for the Downpatrick player to take a stunning catch.

Derek Wilson joined Jack Harrison in the middle and both players were finding it difficult to pierce the Downpatrick field.

The total had reached 26 in the 10th over when Jack Harrison nicked a ball from Mullan and keeper Boultwood, standing up to the stumps, pouched the catch. Mullan and McKeown were bowling very tightly for the home side and by the 25th over, Lurgan had reached 61 for 4, having lost the further wickets of Stephen Chambers, caught behind by Boultwood off McKeown for 9, and Derek Wilson, who edged a ball from Mullan on to his leg stump for 18.

Gradually however, Lurgan began to take the game away from Downpatrick and after McKeown completed his 10 overs and Mullan was taken off not to return, the runs started to flow. Both Niranjan Godbole and Peter Maxwell both started to find the boundary and the finishing line was soon in sight, their undefeated 5th wicket partnership putting on 72 runs as Lurgan passed the target with three overs to spare.

Lurgan have three games left to play, their next match being against Cliftonville at Pollock Park on Saturday.