The only two remaining undefeated teams in the top-flight will go head-to-head on Sunday as CIYMS travel to Woodvale in the LVS Twenty20 Cup first round.
Waringstown, North Down and Lisburn have already progressed to the semi-finals and it’ll be the latter that awaits the winner of this weekend’s rearranged clash at Ballygomartin Road, with the original fixture postponed due to bad weather.
CIYMS have started their season with victories over CSNI and Lisburn while Woodvale have beaten Lisburn and Carrickfergus.
Jacob Mulder, who took 47 wickets last season as CI won four trophies, has started the current campaign by collecting another four in two games.
The 24-year-old is confident there is more in the tank and is hoping he can soon hit top form.
“I’ve probably bowled better before and not taken as many wickets,” he said.
“When you’re playing in a good team, it doesn’t matter when you bowl.
“We’ve batted first and had a fair bit of scoreboard pressure so bowling around the 6th over mark is a really good time to bowl.
“I feel I can bowl better and that’s encouraging if I’m taking wickets and not going for many runs so hopefully I can hit a bit of form.”
The new season has also came with a promotion up the batting order for Mulder, who has slotted in at three due to the absence of Mark Adair and an overseas professional.
Mulder scored 20 against CSNI before being dismissed for six against Lisburn trying to build on a platform set by Chris Dougherty and John Matchett.
“I’m probably more suited to batting in a longer format but with Mark not there and no professional either this year, Jonesy said I would have an opportunity at three,” he added.
“There are a few boys waiting at six and seven that wouldn’t mind a crack at it as well so it’s up to me to get some runs and make that spot my own until Mark or a professional comes back this year or next.
“I didn’t get much of a hit against Lisburn because Doc and Matchy were in such good form and coming out with five overs to go doesn’t do a lot for me!”
Mulder had worked his way back into Ireland’s Twenty20 squad for a tri-series against Scotland and the Netherlands in Dublin last September before he suffered a back injury.
Having not made an international appearance since March 2017, it was a bitter blow after the hard work put in to get back into a position for selection.
He spent time with the Ireland Wolves in South Africa earlier this year and the back injury is now something of the past.
“I’m really pleased all the work I did back in Perth to get my back right has worked and after putting it to the test in South Africa training every day and playing, it has pulled up perfectly,” he said.
“I haven’t even thought about it during the club season.”
Mulder would have almost certainly been included in the Ireland squad that went to the United Arab Emirates for a 2020 Twenty20 World Cup qualifying campaign at the end of last year if it wasn’t for injury.
Although it appears he has fell behind JJ Garth in the pecking order for the 50-over format, Mulder’s record speaks for itself and he will surely still be considered as the premier option in the shortest form of the game.
There will be no World Cup, which is being held in his home country of Australia, to strive towards this year due to the coronavirus pandemic but Mulder is focusing only on what’s immediately ahead of him, which is club and inter provincial cricket.
“It’s obviously very disappointing but speaking to people back in Perth and in cricketing circles, I’ve known for a couple of months that it probably wasn’t going to happen,” he added.
“That was the dream this year. It’s one of those years where you can’t plan too far ahead. It’s disappointing but it gives me another goal for next year.
“You can’t do much about it and hopefully over the winter there is some A tours, senior tours or I can get home to play some cricket as well.
“You can only play what’s in front of you and that’s the club T20 stuff and Knights T20’s in the next month.
“If you can do well in the cricket you play, it probably stands out even more so that’s my plan and hopefully I can do that.”
Mulder will play in the final Northern Knights practice game at Lisburn on Friday before a busy weekend that starts with a Robinson Services Cup trip to Carrickfergus.
The LVS Twenty20 Cup is one of two titles that CIYMS will be out to defend this season and Mulder says they aren’t taking Woodvale lightly ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
“We aren’t going to take them lightly,” he said.
“They have started the season really well and are two from two in the league.
“With this year being so short and T20 cricket, you can really get on a roll and they can beat anyone on their day which we have seen.
“We want to play in another All-Ireland Finals Day. We need three wins to get there and we certainly won’t be taking Woodvale lightly at their own place.”