CRICKET: Firsts are up and running

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Superb conditions led to a massive scoring game at Ballymagorry where Coleraine got their campaign up and running with an ultimately close run victory over Fox Lodge on Saturday.

The Bannsiders are fancied to consolidate their place in the top half of the league this summer and while their top order may have been found wanting at Bready last week there was to be no repeat here.

Scott Campbell, what a start the Ireland under-19 players is enjoying, joined skipper Ian McGregor in an opening stand of 145 that set the tone for what was to be a run-fest.

The youngster followed up his unbeaten century on opening day with another 62 here and even when he departed having hit 7 fours and 2 sixes in his knock, the runs continued to flow.

McGregor was adjudged leg before to Jason Milligan having hit 11 fours and a six in his 83 but professional Chinthaka Jayasinghe and David Cooke continued to pile on the agony for the home team.

The Sri Lankan has a reputation as an attacking force and his 90 runs from just 58 deliveries would suggest that the tag is well deserved as he blasted 9 fours and 5 sixes in an entertaining innings.

Cooke wasn’t in the mood for being left out either and the all-rounder was every bit as impressive as his unbeaten 78, including 7 fours and 5 sixes allowed the visitors to close on a massive 346 for 5.

Jonny Robinson claimed a couple of wickets but pick of the Foxies’ bowling was their own overseas man Wajihuddin who escaped the melee to return figures of 1 for 36 from his 10 overs.

The hosts’ reply started poorly as Stephen Dunn and Gareth Burns picked up early wickets but a resolute half century from Brian Allen and 32 from Jason Milligan steadied the ship.

When that pair were removed Fox Lodge were 129 for 5 and seemingly searching only for respectability but skipper Robinson and Andrew McGinnis had other ideas.

An hour later however the board read 293 for 5 and suddenly it was game on. Coleraine were rattled, make no mistake about it and the home support sensed it but Jayasinghe then managed to claw it back the visitors’ way.

Robinson hit 9 fours and 5 sixes before falling to a snorter of a catch from Ian McGregor on the boundary just 3 runs short of what would have been a magnificent century.

And as usually happens in this situation when one goes the other often follows; Robinson and McGinnis removed in consecutive balls by the Sri Lankan. Whereas the middle order had batted so well, the skipper making 97 from just 68 balls and McGinnis 78 from only 51, the tail was unable to match up and the last 5 wickets fell for 22 in the desperate chase for runs as the chase closed on 315.

Coleraine will breathe a sigh of relief having picked up their first points of the season and despite back-to-back defeats, this was a much better effort from Fox Lodge.