Brigade close in on Top 3 finish

Brigade have given themselves a great chance of progressing to the round-robin stage of their European League group after a productive, if occasionally nervy day, that saw them win both of Tuesday’s matches.

The Beechgrove side are getting better at the format as the tournament progresses and their two victories mean they go into Wednesday’s final match against bottom side Sokol of Zagreb knowing a win will see them through to the next phase.

As in their previous games, Andy Britton’s side looked in trouble at times in both games, starting with the morning fixture against Royal Tigers of Hungary.

Put in to bat, Graeme McCarter’s excellent 56 not out at the top of the order paved the way for the North West’s side’s total of 112-2; easily their best score to date.

McCarter hit 3 fours and 5 sixes in his 27-ball innings- sharing in an unbroken 68-run partnership with David Murdock, who made 25 not out off 15 deliveries.

Adam McDaid had earlier added 15 as Brigade hit 9 sixes in their total- three more than they had managed in yesterday’s two games combined.

The Tigers came out fighting however and the Waterside men had their backs to the wall as Zeeshan Kukikhel (27) and Harsh Mandhyan (23) blasted 56 runs off the first 26 balls of the reply. The Hungarians were on top at that stage but the match was turned on its head by David Barr who removed both set batsmen in the space of three balls.

The wheels came off after that for the batting side as Barr read the situation superbly to return figures of 4-9 from his two overs.

Iftikhar Hussain was very tidy too and although Abhishek Khterpal brought his side closer in the final overs with an entertaining 31 not out off 15 balls, Brigade had done enough.

One downside to the win was skipper Andy Britton was clearly carrying a shoulder injury that could well hamper his bowling, should his side progress.

The day’s second game was another tricky affair against a Bjorvika side buoyed by an excellent win against league leaders Griffins earlier in the day. Britton’s decision to bowl first on winning the toss in this one looked spot on after the Norwegian outfit slumped to 35-5 in the sixth over.

The Barr brothers Ryan (3-14) and David (2-22) were once again front and centre but a combination of adventurous batting from Usman Arif and Qamar Ejazz, and some ordinary work in the field from the Limavady Road side pushed the door back open for Bjorvika.

Arif hit 6 sixes in an astonishing 11-ball 38; sending Nick Donnell onto la playa four balls on the trot. Ejazz added a much more measured 22, all of which helped their side to close on a very respectable 107-6 from their 10 overs.

Brigade went straight on the attack from the start of their reply- McCarter (20) and Britton (11) putting on 25 in the first two overs before the pair fell in quick succession.

Murdock and then Ryan Barr followed cheaply to leave them on 49-4 before a match-winning partnership between Iftikhar Hussain and Adam McDaid eased the pressure.

An unbroken 59-run stand saw McDaid hit the winning runs at the start of the final over to finish unbeaten on 29 (4 fours, 1 six). Bizarrely, one ball earlier he had given himself out caught behind before realising the umpire hadn’t heard the ‘nick’ and scampering back to make his ground.

It was all academic anyway as ‘Ifti’ looked in superb touch at the other- his 14-ball 37 not out (5 sixes) setting his team up for a 6-wicket win ahead of Wednesday’s decider.

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