Niranjan inspires Lurgan to cup win

The Lurgan team.
The Lurgan team.

Lurgan scored an emphatic 100 run win over Premiership side Ballymena at a cold and windy Eaton Park on Saturday in the 1st round of the Ulster Bank Challenge Cup.

An excellent man of the match performance by Town professional Niranjan Godbole with a half century and five wickets, a half century by Stephen Johnston and a blistering four wicket haul for Kris Lyness ensured Lurgan’s name was in the hat for the 2nd round.

After a delay of 20 minutes, Ballymena won the toss and put Lurgan into bat on a soft wicket and slow outfield and with the score on 13, Richard Clarke was adjudged LBW playing forward to a ball from Glass for a duck.

This brought professional Niranjan Godbole to the crease and he and Stephen Johnston started cautiously, with the ball keeping low at times and not coming on to the bat. However as both players adjusted to the pace of the wicket, the runs began to flow with the duo accelerating the scoring rate to over five an over. Johnston had just reached his half century when he tried to loft Lazars to the deep mid-off boundary, only to sky it and allow McClelland to charge in and take an excellent catch. Just 11 runs later with the total on 129, Godbole, who had looked in fine form, got a delivery from Glass that barely lifted over his ankles and he had to depart LBW for 65.

For the only time in the game Ballymena were on the front foot and the Lurgan batting became becalmed for a while. Stephen Chambers was run out for 12 as Peter Haire stayed his ground at the non-strikers end, and Haire (4) and Bruce Topping (1) followed soon after to leave the visitors on 146 for 6 wkts.

However a valuable cameo partnership between Callum Grieve and Peter Maxwell added 34 runs for the 7th wicket before Maxwell, who had damaged his hamstring during the innings, was stumped by Fullerton off McClelland for 13. Grieve was eventually run out for 24 and the Lurgan innings closed after 50 overs on 192 for 9 wkts, a total that was challenging considering the conditions.

Having hit Kris Lyness’s opening over for 11 runs, the Ballymena batsmen were ill prepared for what was to follow. In his 2nd over, the tall Lurgan pace man bowled two superb successive deliveries to rattle the stumps of Ballymena’s Lynch (8) and Gibson (0).

Next to fall victim to Lyness was the dangerous Lazars (1) as a delivery from the pace man kept low hitting the batsman’s back leg plumb in front to give the umpire a straight forward decision. Ballymena were reeling and when Callum Grieve bowled Montgomery, the home side were 37 for 4 wkts and they never recovered. Niranjan Godbole then entered the fray, and after conceding two boundaries in his first over, seemed to be unplayable to the Ballymena batsmen as he clean bowled four, including opener James Kennedy (13), and had top scorer McDowell (35) caught at deep mid-off by debutant Scott Wilson for just 18 runs in 8.5 overs. Ballymena’s innings was brought swiftly to a close in the 34th over, all out for 92. Kris Lyness finished with 4 for 34 off 8 overs and Callum Grieve an excellent 1 for 6 runs off 6 overs.