After losing the toss and being inserted, Carty (49) guided the visitors to the perfect launchpad of 65/1 off 10 overs. John Anderson (12) was the only wicket to fall caught at mid-wicket by Abdul Samad off Abdul Sattar, although Balbriggan will be disappointed that a little rustiness in the field meant a couple of chances went down in those early overs and there were some sloppy overthrows.
Carty took advantage of his reprieves as he struck four boundaries and a beautiful pick-up six over square leg, but he was gutted to fall just one short of what would have been a deserved half-century. Carty was the third wicket to fall as Merrion slipped from 79/1 to 93/5 in 19 deliveries as
Balbriggan showed great determination and fortitude in the field. Chris de Freitas (3-28), Abdul Sattar (2-28) and Farooq Nasr (1-15) all kept plugging away and were rewarded with wickets as the visitors were restricted to 127/7 off their allocation.
In response Nasr (38) and fellow opener Connor Fletcher (38) put on 71 for the first wicket and put Balbriggan in a strong position to chase down the target. Both openers took advantage of local knowledge to score in areas they were comfortable smashing eight boundaries and three maximums between them.
While it was Hugh Kennedy (1-27) who made the initial breakthrough in having Fletcher caught at mid-on by a diving Sorensen, it was the James Hitchcock bowling the 14th over that dragged Merrion into the game. The first ball of the over saw Nasr caught at long-on by Dom Joyce, while with his fourth ball, he removed Greg Ford’s middle stump.
Balbriggan weren’t going away however and when Nathan Rooney burst a 6 through Sean Stanton’s hands on the deep mid-wicket boundary, the home side needed 27 off 24 with seven wickets in hand.
However, a combination of experienced bowling and secure catching in the outfield meant Balbriggan lost five wickets in those final overs and could only add 20 runs as they lost by 6-runs. Merrion will be delighted to have started the season with a victory despite not playing at their best, while Balbriggan under new Head Coach Andre Botha showed signs that they will trouble lots of sides this season.
As always, it was great to see the return of fans to grounds across the country. With a massive double header at Jack Harper Park, it was an action packed day. The crowds loved the big hitting in both games. A sure sign of what is to come for the season ahead!
Courtesy of Oisín Kiniry
Jack Harper Memorial Park, Balbriggan
Balbriggan v Merrion, Monday June 7
Merrion 127/7 20 Overs (J Carty 49, D Joyce 18*; C de Freitas 3-28, A Sattar 2-28)
Balbriggan 121/8 20 Overs (C Fletcher 38, F Nasr 38; J Hitchcock 3-20, J Carty 2-16) Merrion won by 6 runs
Article courtesy of Peter Boyd of Cricket Leinster