Lightning v Rapids - NatWest T20 Blast
A great bowling performance by Lancashire was key to a comprehensive seven wicket victory over Worcestershire Rapids that keeps alive Red Rose hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast.
After the bowlers had restricted the visitors to 127-8, the batsmen steadily chased down their target to clinch victory with 15 balls to spare.
The victory leaves the Lightning on 13 points, two points behind third-placed Birmingham Bears who are the visitors to Emirates Old Trafford for the crucial final game in the North group this Friday (7pm start).
Lancashire handed 21 year-old Rob Jones his white-ball debut today and after Steven Croft won the toss and put Worcestershire in to bat, Junaid Khan-bowling the third over-struck quickly taking the wicket of Joe Clarke with his third ball.
A great one handed catch by Jos Buttler then accounted for the dangerous Joe Leach in the following over after the Rapids skipper had struck 24 of the first 25 runs.
Daryl Mitchell and Mitchell Santner reached the end of the 6 over powerplay with the Rapids reasonably placed on 44-2 but the introduction of spin swung the game decisively Lancashire’s way.
Santner was caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Liam Livingstone off Stephen Parry for 8 and Matt Parkinson then bowled Mitchell for 16 with a sharply turning delivery as the Rapids reached the halfway stage of their innings wobbling on 61-4.
Parkinson, with 1-14 from 4 overs, Parry (1-17 off 4), Lilley (2-18 off 3) and Livingstone made sure there was no recovery with Worcestershire finding scoring increasingly difficult against some disciplined, accurate bowling.
The Rapids only closed on a well-below par total of 127-8 thanks to 30 by Brett D’Oliviera during the second part of their innings but otherwise had little to offer with the bat.
The Lightning reply was underpinned by a partnership of 76 inside 11 overs between Livingstone and Buttler after some early fireworks from Lilley who made 38 batting at number three.
Lilley cracked Tongue over cover for 4 in the 3rd over and then smashed the same bowler for three consecutive 4s at the start of 5th over as the Lightning ended the powerplay on 43-1.
Those boundaries were the last for seven overs as Livingstone and Buttler settled for steady accumulation as the pair closed in on their target.
Livingstone in fact did not hit a single boundary in his 37-ball innings of 36, while Buttler only unleashed some his trademark shots towards the end when victory was all but assured.
Buttler hit Hepburn for a straight six and then scooped the next ball to fine leg for 4 before bringing up the 50 partnership from 43 balls with a further 4 off Tongue at start of next over.
And Buttler added 4 more when flicking Tongue imperiously over the wicketkeeper for 4 to reach his half century from 40 balls.
The game ended tamely with a wide to give Lancashire victory with 15 balls to spare.