CRICKET: Chopra century caps cup win

COLERAINE Second XI secured a comfortable victory on Sunday against Killyclooney Seconds in the Intermediate Cup.

On winning the toss, skipper Nigel Barr had no hesitation in batting first considering the form shown by Coleraine’s batsmen in recent weeks. Openers Clive Edgar and Jonny Elder got off to a watchful start and seemed to have seen off the new ball when Edgar was bowled by Kyle Barr with an excellent delivery that clipped the top of the off srump.

Elder followed soon after when he misjudged the line of a Ryan Barr delivery and was bowled. This left Coleraine on 29 for 2 after seven overs.

The new batsmen Vishal Chopra and Wilson Torrens picked up where they left off last week punishing any loose Killyclooney bowling and rotating the strike with ease. The visiting bowlers continued to struggle as the two Coleraine batsmen increased the run rate to over five runs per over.

Chopra brought up his 50 in the 16th over and the partnership reached the 100 mark after 24 overs. Torrens was closing in on his half century when he was bowled by Kyle Barr for 45 to bring to an end a superb partnership of 135. The new batsman Peter Wallace immediately got into his stride by scoring at will including a monstrous six over the protective netting into a neighbouring garden.

Wallace’s approach allowed Chopra to move towards his century at his own pace and he reached this milestone in the 34th over. Wallace was bowled shortly after for 45 by Greg Donnell with the score on 235 for 4.Donnell managed to pick up the wicket of Steven Harper with his next delivery.

This gave Bernard Findlay a few deliveries to wield the willow and he didn’t disappoint with a huge six over square leg. Coleraine’s inninngs finished on 256 for 5 with Vishal Chopra finishing on 116 not out.

The Killyclooney batsmen knew they needed to score at six an over to chase down the Coleraine total. The Coleraine opening bowlers Alistair Handforth and Steven Harper bowled excellent spells and although Coleraine didn’t make an early breakthrough, they managed to keep the run rate at four an over.

Harper eventually picked up the wicket of Ryan Barr with an excellent swinging delivery and Handforth got in on the act in the next over when he had Simon Barr LBW without scoring. Killyclooney were on 32 for 2 at this stage but the dangerous Stephen McElhatton was still at the crease and he punished any short Coleraine bowling.

Youngster Jordan Conner provided a perfect foil to McElhatton and these two batsmen frustrated the Coleraine bowlers for a number of overs. McElhatton had moved on to 33 and Killyclooney to 70 for 2 when first change bowler JD Muller picked up the prize scalp with a little help from the captain Nigel Barr.

McElhatton skied a delivery towards mid on and Barr sprinted to his right to get into position for the catch when at the last minute the strong wind seemed to blow the ball out of Barr’s reach. However the veteran skipper belied his age to dive full length and grasp the chance one-handed.

This boosted the Coleraine bowlers and soon after Kyle Barr chipped a Harper delivery to mid on to give Barr a much more straightforward catch. Haper finished with admirable figures of 2 for 26. Muller then bowled Ronny Breslin and when skipper Barr bowled Chris Barr for four, Killyclooney were struggling on 88 for 6 at the drinks break.

Jordan Conner was still at the crease and new batsman Rob Dougherty decided to try and increase the run rate and his risky approach paid off with a number of boundaries. Youngster Conner finally fell when David Doey had him caught for 32 by JD Muller but Dougherty continued to score boundaries and he launched Nigel Barr for two huge sixes towards the clubhouse.

Barr had the last laugh when had Dougherty caught at point by Muller to leave Killyclooney on the brink at 142 for 8. Some lower order hitting by Greg Donnell saw Killyclooney bring the deficit to under 100 but vice captain Doey picked up the last two wickets to finish with 3 for 28 and Killyclooney were all out for 159. Coleraine now advance into the semi-final of the cup where they will travel to Bonds Glen or Creevedonnell

Skipper Nigel Barr could not hide his delight and was also very modest about his excellent catch. He said: “Credit must go to Vishal Chopra with a superb century which helped us set a competitive total. I thought we bowled well and took some excellent catches including my own but I was always confident of taking the catch. We now look forward to a semi-final which I am sure will be tough as it is away from home.”

Coleraine return to league action this Sunday against the same opponents. Play starts at Sandel Lodge at 1.00pm.