After its brief hiatus, cricket was able to make its return in Munster this weekend with 9 matches taking place across the province in all of its four playing divisions. Limerick were looking to bring their momentum from a rigorous preseason schedule into the opening round of fixtures and bounce back from a disappointing 2019.
First up for the seniors was an away trip to Galway on Sunday to face a side who were just off the back of beating Kerry, the third party in the North West pool, in Tralee the day before. It was new skipper Arslan Anwar’s first competitive game as skipper as he was looking to turn over a new leaf and get the Shannonsiders back to winning ways at the highest level. Galway won the toss and decided to bat on a glorious day in the west.
Limerick showed little signs of rustiness with some sharp opening overs in the field. Asif Shahab, making his 100th appearance for the club, made the breakthrough trapping Nasim LBW in the third over. The game was held in the balance but two quick wickets left Galway 68-3 after 12 was the start of the home side’s disintegration. Galway couldn’t find the gaps nor the boundaries to up their run rate with no partnerships able to construct anything fruitful as the overs ran out. Some extras and loose deliveries in the latter stage of the innings gave the home side a slightly more respectable total of 121-8 from their 20 overs, Limerick putting in the work in the field and the job was more than half done.
Although only needing a run a ball, openers Azeem Khan and Arslan Anwar were not in the mood for hanging about as they punished some mediocre pace with shots all around the ground. The away side accelerated through going above 10 runs an over as Azeem took matters into his own hands, smashing boundary after boundary. It wasn’t long before he was raising the bat for his half century before being dismissed shortly after with a catch on the boundary. His 65 off just 38 deliveries gave Limerick an invaluable platform of 99-1 off 10 overs, needing just 23 runs to secure victory. Swaroop Burra came in to partner his skipper, making 12 off 18 before getting out with just two runs needed. Debutant Tim Smithies only had to face a few balls before Arslan finished proceedings as Limerick attained victory by 8 wickets and 5 or so overs to spare.
The Shannonsiders go top of the pool with this explosive win and take on Kerry on Sunday in what is shaping up to be a winner takes all encounter down in Tralee. The winners of this game will more than likely be granted a home semi final against the runners up of the Southern pool with the final taking place on the August Bank holiday Monday.
In other results, the Limerick 3rds secured wins on both Saturday and Sunday over County Kerry and Limerick Blasters respectively meaning they will get a home semi final in their t20 blast competition. Club veterans Chris McGrath and Shane Burke steered home victories controlling some very patient and well executed chases with the former making a 50 on his return to Adare after a couple of years break. Captain Ajay Hari was delighted with the two victories as well as the having the opportunity to deputize some new players to the club and test the water for his upcoming semi final.
An unbeaten start to the season was the stuff of dreams for Limerick who’ll be aiming for four victories next weekend as the seconds will look to emulate the performances of their peers as they take on County Kerry in Tralee on Saturday.