MATCH REPORT: Lightning v Falcons
REPORT: Four wickets by Lester helps Lancs to a 12-run victory over Derbyshire
Four wickets by Toby Lester and two wickets by Matt Parkinson led a fine bowling performance by Lancashire with the Lightning successfully defending a total of 157-8 to win by 12 runs and record their third win of the Vitality Blast campaign.
Lester took two early wickets and held his nerve to close out the victory with two further wickets in the final over to finish with T20 best figures of 4-25.
Lancashire’s innings had faltered after the Lightning had made a great start to their innings once Liam Livingstone had won the toss.
And it was Livingstone who led the way with a fine innings of 44 from just 21 balls in an opening partnership of 68 in six overs with Alex Davies.
Derbyshire must have feared a repeat of the 160-run hammering they had received from this pair at Derby last Friday as Livingstone hit two sixes and five fours while Davies struck three boundaries in making 31.
Livingstone hit a pavilion window with a straight six off Lockie Ferguson in the 3rd over and greeted Ravi Rampaul’s introduction into the attack with another six over long-on off the bowler’s first delivery.
The 50 partnership took just 27 balls before Livingstone fell to a good diving catch at long-on by Wayne Madsen off Alex Hughes from the last delivery of the 6-over powerplay with Lancashire going well on 68-1.
Davies followed in the 8th over after reverse sweeping Alex Hughes to Ravi Rampaul at short third man and from 82-2 the visitors fought back well, taking pace off the ball to contain the Lightning batsmen.
Arron Lilley reverse swept Falcons’ former Lancashire 2ndXI spinner Mattie McKiernan, making his Derbyshire debut, for 4 as Lancashire reached halfway on 93-2 but he was run out for 11 by McKiernan after going for a second run off a leg side wide to make the score 105-3 in the 12th over.
Matt Critchley took two further wickets in the 15th over; Keaton Jennings departing to a good running catch by Gary Wilson at long-on for 24 off 23 balls and two balls later Dane Vilas was caught by the leg spinner off a leading edge for 11 to leave Lancashire on 129-5 after 15 overs.
It was left to Jordan Clark, with an unbeaten 20, to steer the Lightning through the final five overs as further wickets tumbled in the quest for late runs. Clark thumped Rampaul for a straight six in the final over which saw Lancashire post 157-8.
But Derbyshire will have been pleased to have fought their way back in to the game after only conceding 47 runs from the final 8 overs while taking six wickets.
The visitors were quickly on the back foot at the start of their reply after Lester struck with two early wickets as the Lightning attack combined to restrict Derbyshire to 41-2 from the powerplay.
Ben Slater drove Lester to Clark at mid-off for 5 in the first over and Wahab Riaz edged behind to Vilas for 16.
A 51-run partnership off 33 balls between Wayne Madsen and Calum MacLeod had brought the Falcons back on track before MacLeod was smartly stumping by Vilas off Jennings for 30 to leave Derbyshire still well placed on 81-3 after 10 overs.
Matt Parkinson then produced an outstanding spell of 2-21 off 4 overs that was instrumental in swinging the advantage in this game Lancashire’s way.
The leg spinner claimed the big wicket of Madsen for 34, the batsman sweeping but getting a big top edge that was easily caught by Vilas.
And Parkinson struck again with a wicket from the first ball of his final over when Gary Wilson skied a catch to Clark on the mid-wicket boundary to depart for 6.
That wicket left Derbyshire on 96-5 needing 62 off 35 balls and Daryn Smit and Matt Critchley kept the visitors hopes alive with a 6th wicket partnership of 46 runs.
Their alliance brought the required target down to 23 runs needed from the final two overs, but a superb 19th over from James Faulkner that went for only five runs left Lester to bowl the final over with 18 runs to play with.
Both batsmen perished from consecutive deliveries; Critchley caught at long-on by Steven Croft for 19 and Smit for 28 to a nicely judged catch on mid-wicket boundary by Lilley as the visitors finished on 145-7.
“We came in to the game with a lot of confidence after the last two games,” said Toby Lester.
“We’re just taking what we are doing in practice out there and being really confident.
“Defending a score like that today I thought was a tremendous effort from the bowlers.
“The way our bowlers have bowled in this tournament has been really good. We’ve taken a lot of confidence from those previous games.
“You just keep going out there, knowing what you can do and backing that it will come out the right way for you.
Having only made his T20 debut at Derby last Friday, figures of 4-25 were easily Lester’s best so far.
“I haven’t had a chance to look yet (at my figures),” he laughed. “But it was a good time to bowl at the end after Jimmy had set that finish up really well with that penultimate over.
“So the pressure was slightly off, although there is still pressure at the end.
“It’s actually a good time to bowl. If you nail your skills then wickets are available for you, especially when they are really having to go for it.”
And Lester is relishing his opportunity.
“I’m loving every second of it,” he admitted, adding: “I’m having a lot of fun.
“It’s the first time I’ve played in front of this many people. I’ve got to pinch myself at times.
“I’m really happy it’s going well. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing.
“You still get nerves going out there. But just be confident (in yourself), knowing what you do will be the right way to come out.
And Lester acknowledged it has been a bit of a dream start.
“It’s always really important to start well,” he agreed. “You can take that into every single game you play. I couldn’t have wished for a better start really.
“All the boys have welcomed me into that environment and I’ve just gone out there with a lot of freedom and I’ve just loved it.
Lester is also loving bowling along Lancashire’s T20 overseas player James Faulkner.
“Talking about pinch yourself moments, that (bowling with James Faulkner) is one.
“I made my County Championship debut when he was here before and it’s still the same sort feeling now to what it was back then, bowling alongside him.
“The things he’s done in cricket have been fantastic and if I can learn from him that will be really good.”
Before today Lester has bowled early in the innings, and he said:
“I don’t think about settling in because T20 is so quick. Bowling three overs in a row in the powerplay I actually think batters are starting to line you up a bit in that third over. So it’s a challenge, but I’ve really enjoyed that challenge and happy it’s going really well at the moment.
“The spinners have been terrific and it’s really good, knowing that they can do that at our home ground. They are very hard to hit and it’s working for us at the moment. It’s a comfort blanket knowing that quality spin bowling is coming on in the middle overs and it does give the whole team a lot of confidence knowing that they are ready to go.”
Lester is not looking too far ahead though and said:
“If we can just keep doing what we are doing, the atmosphere we are creating at the moment is really good to be around. Going out there and enjoying ourselves.
“It would be lovely to keep going and to keep winning. Let’s just see what happens.”
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
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