by Conor Dillon
The weather on the previous day denied the sides a chance to battle for supremacy over 120 overs and there were one or two changes in the Phoenix selection for Sunday’s league fixture. Conor Kelly won the toss and inserted the league leaders. The eleven who took the field for Phoenix were: Captain Conor Kelly, wicket keeper Syed Ali, M D Masud Ahmed, Joe McKay, Jan Hendrik Steenkamp, Corie Dickeson, Thomas Anders, David Ford, Sadaf Raza, Rory Anders, Coach Matt Lunson.
Opposing skipper Theo Lawson and wicket keeper Rohit Bahl took on the task of opening the visiting innings against Steenkamp and Thomas Anders. The stand ended at 15 in the 5th over when Steenkamp enticed a catch for McKay. Anders continued his economical form from Kilcock the previous weekend and the two bowlers were rested after 6 overs each with the score on 41. Conor Kelly and Rory Anders came on with the skipper getting Lawson lbw from his third delivery. Kelly also removed the visiting professional, Beukes, for 7 to make it 61 for 3. (With the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert coming to a close a lot of students at Phoenix will be glad to see the back of their beukes for the summer).
Balbirnie’s stand with Russell brought the score to 77 before the Corkman was lbw to Raza for 9 and Thomas Anders claimed a catch to remove Balbirnie after he top scored with 32 to allow Raza leave the attack with 2 wickets for 10 runs. Masud Ahmed kept an economy rate of a fraction under 4 runs an over and also picked up the wicket of McCarthy – clean bowled. Steenkamp had a burst of two overs during which he trapped Paul Lawson lbw. Phoenix had a bonus when Coach Lunson bowled Eastwood for 17 and Conor Kelly had enough time to back up the stumps at the bowler’s end and run out the younger Balbirnie. The innings closed in Steenkamp’s 9th over when Leonard was caught by Raza for 11. Pembroke were all out for 145 with Steenkamp taking 3 wickets.
Could Phoenix complete the victory? There was an instant setback when McKay was out without scoring and then Masud and Ali struggled to stay together until the tea interval. Then after tea the umpires kept the play going for quite some time in persistent rain before eventually coming off for just 10 minutes. In the meantime Ali was bowled by Eastwood for 6 and Captain Kelly managed a solitary boundary before McCarthy had him caught by Beukes. Steenkamp began positively but soon lost Masud to Eastwood and Dickeson after a quickfire 13 to make it 83 for 5.
David Ford now called on his vast experience at the crease and the stand added eight singles and two wides before Steenkamp hit the next boundary which Ford followed in the next over with two boundaries off Paul Lawson. Ford’s dismissal left Phoenix on 116 for 6 i.e. still 30 runs short of victory. A square cut from Thomas Anders may have soothed the spectators’ nerves temporarily but his exit for 7 was followed immediately by that of Raza for 0. Steenkamp was suddenly losing the strike just when the bowlers knew he was on top. However, the South African remained positive in his shot selection and minimised the exposure of his latest partner, Rory Anders, to the bowling attack. One big hit was dropped over the midwicket boundary for four and then Steenkamp reached his 50 with a single. Anders negotiated the next five balls from McCarthy and Steenkamp brought proceedings to a close with another boundary off Paul Lawson. Phoenix won by 2 wickets.
Man of the Match: Jan Steenkamp 3 wickets, 54 not out