Centurion Ervine leads Lisburn to victory yet again

Once again, Lisburn’s in-form ace Craig Ervine with his first century in The Park, paved the way for victory, grabbing his first century in the Park to set up his team’s fifth win of the season.

Lisburn batsmen Craig Ervine and David Simpsonhit 144 as a pair on Saturday. US1431-502cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Lisburn posted a very large total, 289 for five, but after a number of rain interruptions, Ballymena were given the daunting target of 241 in 35 overs to claim the points.

As unlikely as it seemed, they came close thanks to to their Indian professional Y.Takawale, who responded to Ervine’s 147 with a superb 111. Lisburn eventually won by the narrow margin of five runs in yet another cliff hanger finish.

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The home side won the toss and decided to bat with rain in the air but quickly lost Robert Rankin, clean bowled by the promising McDowell in the third over and in the eighth, James McGowan was also bowled, this time by McKinley leaving Lisburn balancing on 30 for two.

David Simpson batting for Lisburn against Ballymena, at Wallace Park. US1431-503cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Number three Craig Ervine was beginning to show his undoubted class and along with captain Davey Simpson, they turned the game in their favour in some fashion. The pair added no less than 144 in the next 32 overs, playing some great shots in the process with Ervine gathering momentum as the overs ticked by.

Ervine reached his 50 in just 79 balls and proceeded to his maiden century in the Wallace Park supported by the in-form Simpson. His 100 came in just 117 balls with the sixes and fours coming at regular intervals.

Unfortunately, Craig lost his partner in the 40th over, Simpson being bowled by McDowell for a very good 44. Darryl Brown replaced the captain for the final eight overs of the innings which had already been reduced to 48 overs after the first lengthy rain break.

The fall of the third wicket saw Ervine and Brown see out the last overs and it was tailor made for the pair as they plundered the Ballymena attack to the tune of 98 runs with Brown going to a 24 ball half century.

Lisburn eventually lost the star of the day when Ervine was out in the 46th over for a magnificent 147. His innings included seven sixes and 10 boundaries and provided those watching with great entertainment.

Darryl Brown was also dismissed going for another big shot leaving Adam Berry and Richard Simpson to take the Lisburn total to an imposing 289 for five at the end of 48 interest-packed overs.

Ballymena, requiring almost six runs per over for victory, started badly losing the Kennedy brothers Robert and James in the sixth and ninth overs, James bowled by Simpson and Robert clean bowled by Richard McConkey with the score on 29.

However, the loss of the two openers brought the Ballymena professional to the wicket; Y.Takawale with a reputation in the Indian Premier League.

He quickly showed his talent but before he got into his stride, the game was further reduced to a target score of 241 in 35 overs, which for most batsmen would be considered out of reach.

Takawale, however, saw it as a nothing to lose situation and began to strike the ball harder and harder showing little mercy to the Lisburn bowlers.

He was well supported by David Kennedy, adding 96 for the third wicket before Kennedy was caught in the 22nd over by Robert Rankin off the bowling of James Magowan for a more than useful 37.

The score at this point was 125 for three with Ballymena still well behind the run rate but Takawale and Ballymena’s number five five Lazars began to take runs off all the Lisburn bowlers in a stand of 79 in just nine overs.

Takawale struck some massive sixes in his onslaught and the run rate of 10 per over seeme not to be a problem as the pair took Ballymena to the brink of a remarkable victory but at the crucial point, they lost Lazars for 36, caught by Adam Berry off skipper Simpson, and eventually Takawale, much to the relief ofthe Lisburn camp.

He had scored a brilliant 111 with six large sixes and numerous boundaries. He, thankfully, was caught by Richard McConkey off the brave bowling of Mark Berry and Lisburn had scraped home by just five runs.

Ballymena and Takawale in particular must be applauded for their great effort but the game surely would not have been such a spectacle without the innings from Craig Ervine, whose 147 took him to over 900 runs for the season with five matches remaining.

Lisburn’s best bowling came from Captain Simpson with two for 25 while Richard McConkey took one for 17, James Magowan one for 45 and Mark Berry, who survived the barrage to finish with his priceless wicket for 60.

Lisburn will not have a game this Saturday as they were due to play Waringstown at the Lawn but their opposition are involved in the Challenge Cup final against CSNI at Comber starting on Friday.