Larne 1st XI made it five wins on the bounce on Saturday with a commanding nine-wicket win over PSNI at Newforge.
Larne bowled first on a glorious day and on a pitch which was rock hard and had a lightning fast outfield. The home side made the most of this as they put on 67 for the opening wicket.
Aaron McKinley bowled an opening spell full of pace and aggression and was unlucky not to make a breakthrough, while Cameron Ruys had no joy from the other end as there was no movement for the bowlers.
Gareth Gaw bowled with great accuracy but, in what has been the story of his season so far, he remained wicketless in his eight overs which cost just 19 runs.
The breakthrough was eventually made by Gareth Alexander thanks to an excellent catch by Charlie Cloke who was making his debut. After 20 overs PSNI were well placed on 78-1.
Alexander landed two more quick wickets after drinks thanks to catches from Darren Stanton and Chris Keenan.
McKinley then returned to take the important wicket of a batsman who had just crashed two big sixes. Jonny Baxter captured a wicket, while Cloke’s second catch of the afternoon saw skipper Chris Dempsey take another as the PSNI innings closed on 178-6.
It was a decent total but given the nature of the pitch Larne were very confident going out to chase it. This determined attitude proved well placed as they cruised home for the loss of just one wicket.
It was Baxter who missed out when an attempted pull-shot found the top edge and he was caught at third man. This was the only joy for PSNI and Alexander and Keenan made the most of the great batting conditions and saw Larne home with 13 overs to spare.
They batted cautiously to start against two good opening bowlers. After eight overs just 24 runs were on the board but the runs soon started to flow. By the 20 over drinks break they were on 125-1. Alexander was first to pass 50 and went on to finish unbeaten on 65 while Keenan soon followed and a flourish of boundaries including four big sixes which saw him finish on 80 not-out.
This was another potential banana-skin avoided and there were times during the PSNI innings when Larne had to hang in there but it was a very comprehensive win and they will be looking to keep the run going when they host Donaghadee next Saturday. The team is kindly sponsored by Ruby’s.
PSNI 178-6 (G Alexander 3-41)
Larne 179-1 (C Keenan 80no, G Alexander 65 no)