Greg Thompson and David Dawson produced arguably the finest two innings of their senior careers as Waringstown produced a remarkable comeback to beat Instonians by three wickets in Sunday’s Ulster Cup quarter-final.
Inst were seemingly in total command as Waringstown slumped to 47 for four chasing a target of 224 in 40 overs.
Stephen Bunting had Adam Dennison caught in close on the leg side, Kyle McCallan was trapped lbw before a beauty beat professional Shaheen Khan all ends up.
With Lee Nelson edging an outswinger from Nikolai Smith behind, Waringstown were under the hammer with James Hall, Thompson and David Dawson arguably their last hopes.
Hall and Thompson started the rebuilding process with a 50-run stand but when substitute fielder Eugene Moleon ran out Hall for 40 with a direct hit, the villagers were 97 for five and the longest of odds for a comeback.
Thompson and Dawson turned the match on his head, combining strong running with a series of superb boundaries.
Andrew White, the Ireland international, came in for particular punishment with one maximum from Thompson carrying all the way onto the rugby pitch.
The asking rate gradually fell but four overs from the end Inst had a lifeline, Thompson dragging one onto his stumps from Imad Wasim after making 80 from 85 balls. He struck seven fours and four sixes. It’s doubtful whether he has ever batted better in senior cricket.
At 188 for six, Inst had a sniff but Waringstown closed the door firmly in their faces. Gary Kidd (15) was excellent foil for Dawson who developed an uncanny knack of hitting a boundary exactly when Waringstown needed one.
Kidd was run out from the final ball of the 39th over, but from the next delivery Dawson clinched a three-wicket victory and passed 50 himself. His unbeaten 51 from just 44 balls included two fours and three sixes.
It was hard not to feel sympathy for Inst who did little wrong all day. Eric Layard had earlier batted beautifully for an unbeaten 97, striking nine fours and a six in his innings from 132 balls. Nelson, the Waringstown captain, is back bowling again and his three for 32 from eight overs was instrumental in stopping the Instonians charge. He accounted for James Shannon and White.
Waringstown face Domemana at home in the semi-finals.
A thumping 10 wicket success for Waringstown over Lurgan in the 2nd round of the Ulster Bank Challenge Cup at Pollock Park on Saturday, emphasised the enormity of the gap in class that exists between teams at the top of the Premier League and those in Section 1.
Waringstown won the game at a canter, knocking off the 119 target set by Lurgan in just 18.3 overs.
Lurgan having won the toss, elected to bat and had lost Topping (2), Van Niekirk (8) and Johnston (19) with just 34 runs on the board. Then Lurgan professional Niranjan Godbole and Stephen Chambers set about repairing damage and a fourth wicket partnership of 61 gave the home side some hope but both were gone shortly after the hundred came up, Chambers out lbw to Nelson for 31 and Godbole out to an excellent catch by McCallan for 38.
The Lurgan batting folded after that, the last 6 wickets falling for just 24 runs.
Waringstown’s bowlers restricted the Lurgan run rate to less than 3 an over with Greg Thompson taking 4 wickets for 19 runs in his 10 overs.
In reply, Waringstown openers James Hall and Adam Dennison each posted half centuries, Hall finishing on 61not out and Dennison 52not out with the Lurgan bowling attack seldom troubling either batsman, with the villagers passing the Lurgan total in the 19th over.
Waringstown are away to CIYMS in the semi-final on July 5.
Match sponsor: The Lurgan match sponsor for this cup game was Colin McCusker.
Waringstown are away to CSNI on Saturday, ball sponsor is Derek Healey.
Lurgan are also away, taking on Woodvale.