Carrickfergus’ first ever Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup quarter-final ended in defeat as they went down by five wickets to Phoenix at Middle Road on Sunday.
The home side got off to a flying start in terms of runs scored but were losing wickets at a regular rate, with Phoenix opening bowler Metha claiming the scalps of Michael Gilmour, Iain Parkhill and Jamie Holmes to leave Carrick 51-3 in the ninth over.
As has been the case for the most of this season, overseas professional Jacques Snyman was in blistering form and really cashed in after being dropped in the slips second ball.
The South African kicked his innings off with a huge straight six and followed it up with two more on his way to an impressive half-century, continuing his purple patch in the competition after centuries in the previous two rounds.
Much seemed to rest on Snyman’s shoulders, and when he was bowled for 61 from 50 balls with the scores sitting at 100-5, the large home crowd would have been fearing that their good start was going to fail to produce a competitive score.
That all changed when Ashwin Shetty joined Matthew McCord at the crease as the pair took the attack to Phoenix’s bowlers and put the pressure back on their visitors.
McCord, who has First Class experience having made his Northern Knights debut last season, reached his half-century from 78 deliveries as they brought up an astonishing 100-run stand for the eighth wicket.
Shetty, who had previously hit a half-century against Phoenix, reached the landmark once again against the Leinster opposition from 44 balls and was striking the ball incredibly well, as shown by his two consecutive sixes.
Carrick were bowled out for a competitive 238 and would have been more than happy after the position they were in, but Phoenix came out of the traps quickly with Simi Singh, who was released from the Ireland squad to play, showing his intent early on with a six that cleared the ground.
He was enjoying the occasion and raced to fifty from 28 balls before Carrick made a crucial breakthrough by removing Ben Beecroft for 33.
Singh was the second wicket to fall after being caught off the bowling of Richard Hood for 63 to leave Phoenix on 100-2.
Carrick would take a further three wickets but Mehta (62*) and Nicolaas Pretorius (35*) steered the ship home and sealed Phoenix’s place.
It was more than a valiant effort from a Carrick side in that position for the first time and Michael Gilmour’s side will take huge amounts of confidence from the defeat into the remainder of their Premier League campaign, where they beat Lisburn on Saturday.
CSNI will hope to become the first NCU team into the semis when they take on Pembroke today.