It may have been a game short on quality at times, but there was no lack of drama at The Cricket Field this afternoon, as the Badgers saw off Limerick 3 by 18 runs in a game that ebbed and flowed right up to the final ball.
Midleton had registered a total of 7 new players during the week as the traditional mixture of July lethargy and summer holidays took their toll on availability. The resultant team featured four players making their debut for the club and Kevin Moran resuming his position behind the sticks after an absence of two years. It was down to the experienced members of the squad to to show the newcomers how things should be done, and captain and opener Adrian Stack duly obliged, smashing his third ball straight into point to record yet another duck. But somehow, the expected collapse failed to materialise, as Moran rolled back the years with a mercurial performance, assisted by new boys Kashif Javid, Zain Kazmi and Imran Khan, who added an impressive 36 runs to the total before falling to the excellent Limerick youngster Nienaber. It was to be one of the experienced boys who would cause Limerick the real damage though, as Ali Kalota, who postponed his return to Pakistan to play for the club for another month, quickly powered his way to the high score of the day with a dazzling array of boundaries. Shane O’Reilly, who recently captained the Munster U13’s, showed incredible maturity in support, keeping the bowling of Nienaber at bay, before another new recruit, Rizwan Ali piled on the agony for the visitors on a baking outfield with a dramatic cameo and 11 runs, setting the visitors a total of 183 to win.
And what a chase it was! Midleton were largely the architects of their own near downfall, with a litany of extras, as one by one the visitor’s batsmen kept the run rate on target. Magsi, Atif, Kashif and Imran all claimed one wicket each, but even by drinks, the maths were simple – if Midleton dismissed Limerick they would win, if Limerick batted out their 40 overs, they would win. It was to be Shane O’Reilly who would swing the balance back towards the hosts, as his devilish swing finally claimed Mogli, but the tide had soon turned once again thanks to some powerful batting by Kamboj. Suddenly, in the 29th over, the game once again swung in Midleton’s favour, as Kashif dismissed Kamboj and Nienaber, but Limerick still had wickets to spare to set up a nail biting finish. After a frantic few overs, it was to be Luke O’Reilly who would finally claim the points for the hosts in the 35th over of an epic contest, catching Mohammadi LBW and closing out the contest in the most breathtaking of fashion.