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Smith and Shannon put Knights in strong position

Cricket Ireland

Half Centuries from Nikolai Smith and James Shannon put the Northern Knights in a strong position on a rain-affected first day's play of their Hanley Energy InterProvincial Championship clash at Clontarf.

All the morning session was lost to rain, and also the last 15 minutes of the extended day, meaning 25 overs in total were lost to the elements.

Lightning perhaps unsurprisingly opted to bowl after winning the toss, but they suffered a major blow as Irish international Max Sorensen was ruled out with illness.

Shannon and Smith shared a second wicket stand of 132 after the early loss of Waringstown opener James McCollum - well caught at second slip by George Dockrell off Eddie Richardson (1-35) for 1.

That was to be the last success for defending champions Lightning, as The Knights - under the new captaincy of Shannon - showed a steely determination and application rarely evident in their batting in previous years.

It was all the more impressive given that Smith was operating as a makeshift opener, following the late withdrawal of regular opener Chris Dougherty through injury - his place taken by Jamie Magowan of Muckamore.

The South African dominated the stand with his Shaw's Bridge colleague, striking 12 boundaries in his 77 from 168 deliveries. He looked to be set for a century before being well caught low down in the gully off Peter Chase (1-28).

Shannon though proved harder to shift, and his obdurate innings saw him face 224 deliveries for his unbeaten 62. Lee Nelson was also as resolute in his defence, scoring an unbeaten 17 from 68 balls as the Knights finished the day on 193 for 2.

With the second new ball due in just one over tomorrow, it promises to be a crucial passage of play in the hunt for bonus points.

Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Championship
At Castle Avenue, Clontarf, Day 1 of 3
Northern Knights 193/2 (79 overs; N Smith 77, J Shannon 62no)  v Leinster Lightning