PREVIEW: Lightning v Bears, sponsored by LeasingOptions.co.uk
PREVIEW: Lancashire Lightning v Birmingham Bears, sponsored by LeasingOptions.co.uk
Lancashire are still alive in the NatWest T20 Blast ahead of their final group game against Birmingham Bears at Emirates Old Trafford tonight (7pm).
The Lightning must win and hope for other results to go their way in order to secure a place in the top four, where the Bears already sit.
With Notts top of the North Group and already through, it means there are six teams vying for three quarter-final places.
Lancashire sit seventh in the table with 13 points, with only two points separating Yorkshire, who have already finished their group fixtures, in second to the Red Rose.
It is all but impossible for the Lightning to catch them given the strength of the Vikings net run-rate, the first separator for teams finishing on level points.
But they can leapfrog Derbyshire in third, Birmingham in fourth, Leicester in fifth and Northants in sixth.
Lancashire will need two of Derbyshire, Northants and Leicester to lose in order to qualify with a win over the Bears.
Lancashire Lightning v Birmingham Bears, sponsored by LeasingOptions.co.uk
Friday 18 August
Emirates Old Trafford
NatWest T20 Blast
TONIGHT’S FIXTURES IN THE NORTH
Falcons v Rapids, The 3aaa County Ground
Lightning v Bears, Emirates Old Trafford
Steelbacks v Jets, The County Ground
Outlaws v Foxes, Trent Briedge
Birmingham are enjoying their best period of a difficult season.
Bottom of the County Championship table, they also failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the early season one-day Cup.
But the 2014 Blast winners have won seven of 13 T20 matches to give themselves a great chance of qualifying for the last eight.
Led by Sam Hain at the top of the order with 344 runs, the Bears have been helped along by a series of useful contributions from captain Ian Bell and current and former New Zealand all-rounders Colin de Grandhomme and Grant Elliott, who have all posted more than 200 runs.
With the ball, they have once again been fired by overseas Kiwi off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who should enjoy the spin friendly conditions on offer at Emirates Old Trafford.
He has taken 19 wickets and is the joint second leading wicket-taker in the competition alongside Middlesex’s Tom Helm. Leicester’s Clint McKay has 20.
LAST TIME OUT
Birmingham beat Lancashire by five wickets with two balls to spare chasing 175 at Edgbaston at the end of last month.
The Lightning recovered from 79-4 to post 174-6, led by Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 80 off 43 balls, including six fours and two sixes.
Keith Barker and de Grandhomme both claimed two wickets for the hosts.
Wickets for Tom Bailey and Ryan McLaren then put Lancashire in a strong position with the hosts at 17-2 in reply.
Unfortunately, debutant Adam Hose, a mid-season signing from Somerset, led the fightback with 76 off 43, hitting seven fours and five sixes.
He shared 69 for the fourth wicket with Elliott, who made an unbeaten 45 to see his side over the line.
It was part of a run of three defeats and a No Result at the end of July and start of August which the Lightning will look back on with regret if they don’t qualify tonight.
WHAT THEY SAID
Arron Lilley has drawn comparisons with Lancashire’s Blast title-winning campaign of 2015 when they secured a place in the quarter-finals during the final round of the North Group fixtures.
“A few of the lads in the changing rooms have spoken about that,” said the all-rounder, who was man-of-the-match in Wednesday’s win over Worcestershire.
“We snuck in at the last minute. I think it was a rain-off at Worcester.
“Hopefully the results go our way and we can get over the line. Then the momentum’s with us having won two from two at the back end.
“This is where you need to be winning games.”
Lilley is loving life in the thick of the action for the Lightning. On Wednesday, he claimed 2-18 from three overs with the ball and hit 33 with the bat from number three in the order.
The latter is a new position he has been given this year.
“I’m really enjoying it,” he added.
“I spoke to Glen Chapple about the role. In the first six, he wants me to get on with it and play my way. Outside of that, he wants me to play as a normal batter, hit and run kind of thing.
“If the coaching staff have got the confidence in me, I’ll take it on. I do like to be up and at them, so it’s been really good.”
Bails and Ales drinks festival
This summer, Emirates Old Trafford will be hosting its first ever Bails and Ales drinks festival for the final fixture of the 2017 NatWest T20 Blast group stage campaign.
The Bails and Ales drinks festival will be the first of its kind for the biggest domestic cricket competition in the country, and will combine that festival atmosphere with exciting T20 cricket – with some of best named breweries coming together for this unique event including Heineken, JW Lees, Joseph Holt and Robinsons.
2017 Bails and Ales Drinks Festival
- Lancashire Lightning v Birmingham Bears – Fri 18 Aug
Buy your tickets for the first ever Bails and Ales drinks festival here, or by calling 0161 868 6868 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org ...but don’t forget you can benefit from the best ticket prices by buying online and can beat the queues by using our print at home tickets.