CSNI Women on course for double
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
CIVIL Service North remain on course for the Women’s Premier League and Challenge Cup double after completing the knock-out half of it yesterday in convincing fashion.
Victory by 24 runs against North Down at The Lawn in the (T20) Cup final was reward for an impressive all-round team performance and got them back on the winning trail which was interrupted for the first time by a surprising league defeat by Lurgan.
However, they are still eight points clear at the top of the league and they may not even have to win their final game if Waringstown slip up against North Down in their other league clash.
However, it looks like it will be a shoot-out for the league title because North Down’s leading batter Amy Benson seems certain to miss the rest of the season with a leg injury which ruled her out of yesterday’s final.
She is still awaiting the results of an MRI scan.
Benson hit 80 not out before she pulled up in the semi-final against Lurgan two weeks ago so although she was present at The Lawn yesterday, all she could was watch on from the spectators’ side of the boundary.
Admitting it was a helpless and nervous watch, she saw her team-mates bowl out Civil Service North in the 19th over for 116 but only Ali Millar could keep pace with the required run-rate in the chase - an excellent 37 from 39 balls - and North Down finished tamely on 92 for five.
A wicket fell in the first over of both innings, North Down skipper Staci Maxwell bowling opposite number Rachael Thomas with her third ball and Aoife Fisher having Rebecca Nield leg before with the first ball of the reply.
At halfway in the CSN innings, North Down were firmly in control with Keziah Dines taking two wickets in the 10th over – the second a stunning one-handed catch by Kathryn Rogers at wide mid-on – to reduce the league leaders to 54 for six.
But a superb seventh wicket stand of 46 between Fisher and Abi Leckey, who scored a run-a-ball 24 from number eight, took CSN into three figures with 22 balls left.
So, in the end, CSN will have been disappointed to lose their last four wickets in the space of 15 deliveries, Leckey, the last batter dismissed, run out going for a third.
North Down lost only three wickets in the first half of their innings but with just 31 on the board they were already up against it.
Maxwell, without her trusty partner, knew she had to bat long but although she stayed until the 15th over, when she was caught behind, she had only 14 runs to her name and the total on 62.
The bowling star was Aoife Fisher who conceded just four singles and a wide in her four overs but it was Leckey who was deservedly named player of the match adding figures of one – the wicket of Maxwell - for 18 to her 24 runs.
SCORES: Civil Service North 116 (18.5 overs, A Leckey 24, A Cowan 23; S Maxwell 2-6, K Dines 2-19, N Morton 2-15) North Down 92-6 (A Milar 37). Civil Service North won by 24 runs.