Lancashire win Roses thriller by one run
REPORT: Lancashire win #GameofRoses T20 thriller
Lancashire Lightning ran out winners against Yorkshire Vikings by just one run in an incredible, pulsating Vitality Blast match that just about shredded the nerves of everyone in the record 22,515 crowd at Emirates Old Trafford tonight.
Toby Lester was given the task of bowling the final over with the Vikings needing 17 runs to win and Joe Root and Kane Williamson, currently the number 9 and number 3 batsmen in world T20 cricket, at the crease.
On a night that rained sixes-23 of them in only 28 overs-the left arm pace bowler, playing in just his fifth T20 game, was rightly mobbed by his team-mates after allowing just two runs from the final delivery to clinch a famous victory.
“It’s up there with one of the best games I’ve ever played in,” said Man of the Match Liam Livingstone, who smashed an outstanding 79 in Lancashire’s 176-2.
“It would have been nice if it hadn’t been as close at the end!” he smiled. “But it makes it a bit more special to win in those circumstances. It was a great game to be involved in and nice to come out on the right side of it.”
And Livingstone admitted to some nerves during the closing moments.
“Yes, I’ve never felt like that in a match,” he admitted. “I was stood at long-on feeling sick. But that’s all part of it. It’s probably what you play the game for. “
And Livingstone hailed Toby Lester, who bowled a last over under the most intense pressure.
“It was nice that one of our young lads, who has played in only five games, has won it for us,” he said.
“Toby bowled the final over in the other game and did really well. His plan was to bowl into the wicket with pace off, and when that didn’t work he changed and bowled yorkers at the end.
“It was a great last ball and nice for him to perform under the pressure of a Roses game defending 17 runs.
Rain meant play was delayed until 7.45pm with the game reduced to 14 overs per side and Lancashire made two changes from the side that played at Leicester on Wednesday, with Jos Buttler and Stephen Parry returning in place of Steven Croft and Graham Onions.
Croft’s omission was a significant one that ended the Lancashire all-rounder’s run of 148 consecutive T20 games, the most by any English player and second only in world T20 cricket to Suresh Raina’s 156 consecutive matches for the Chennai Super Kings.
With Yorkshire selecting their five England internationals, the two teams fielded a total of 14 players that had played in one or more of the international formats.
After being put in to bat, Lancashire made an imposing 176-2 from their 14 overs following an outstanding attacking innings by Liam Livingstone.
But the Lightning skipper had a huge let-off in the first over when he skied a David Willey delivery into the covers. Three Yorkshire fielders converged under the ball only to leave the catch to each other.
It proved to be a costly miss as Livingstone launched himself into the Yorkshire bowling in explosive fashion pulling Tim Bresnan viciously for consecutive sixes to mid-wicket in an over that produced 16 runs.
Fellow opening batsman Jos Buttler smashed a six, measured at 97 metres, straight into the windows on the second floor of the Media Centre as 52 runs came from the powerplay, reduced to 4.1 overs due to the shortened length of the game.
Buttler was run out for 16 by a smart piece of fielding by Liam Plunkett off his own bowling following indecision over a quick single by both batsmen to break the opening partnership at 55 in the 5th over.
But Livingstone continued to blast away, pulling Adil Rashid for six in the 6th over while Arron Lilley hit Plunkett for two fours and a six to keep the momentum going as Lancashire reached halfway on 82-1.
Livingstone reached his fifty off 26 balls when he pulled Rashid high into the mid-wicket stands in the 8th over.
And Livingstone drove Azeem Rafiq for two further sixes over long-on and mid-wicket as the onslaught continued with 17 runs coming from the 9th over with Lancashire 112-1.
Man of the Match Livingstone then drove Steve Patterson in magnificent fashion for consecutive fours at the start of the 10th over before departing to a standing ovation after he was well caught by Root at mid-off from the next delivery for 79 off just 37 deliveries. It was a brilliant, outstanding innings by the Lightning skipper with Lancashire 120-2.
Jordan Clark pulled Rafiq onto the top tier of the stand at long-on in the 11th over and a few balls later Lilley joined in the fun by hitting another six to the same spot on his way to a fine career-best innings 42 not out that came off only 20 balls.
The 11th six of the innings, hit by Clark (36 not out off 17 balls) off Willey in the final over, tied a Lancashire T20 record for most sixes in an innings as the Lightning finished on an imposing 176-2.
Adam Lyth got the Yorkshire off to a fast start with a brilliant innings of 60 which included 6 sixes and encompassed a mere 26 balls as the runs continued to flow.
But just as Lyth was threatening to emulate and possibly surpass Livingstone’s earlier effort, the Vikings’ opener perished when he was caught by the Lancashire captain at long-off off Matt Parkinson to leave Yorkshire on 80-1 after 7 overs.
David Willey followed when he was stumped by Buttler off Parkinson (2-38) for 20 at the start of the 9th over to leave Yorkshire on 90-2.
Liam Plunkett threatened to swing the game Yorkshire’s way with two quick sixes before perishing to the first ball of the 12th over when he was bowled for 19 by Clark with 46 runs required from 17 balls.
Bresnan thumped two sixes but was caught in the deep by Lilley off James Faulkner for 17 off 6 balls to leave 26 runs needed off 9 balls.
And in a frantic finale that target became 17 runs required from the final over with the ball thrown to Lester.
Root hit three of the first four deliveries to the boundary to reach his fifty from 21 balls, while the other was a dot ball greeted with a huge roar by the crowd.
A single by Root left four to win from the final ball with Lester bowling to Williamson, but the New Zealand international could only pull for two runs to mid-wicket to spark great scenes of celebration on and off the pitch.
What a finish!
“It was a great win for the lads,” said Livingstone.
“We’ve got five wins from the last five and we’re flying.
“It’s the first tight game we’ve won all year. We haven’t played a bad game of white ball cricket yet, so we can use this as a catapult and hopefully the next time we are in the same situation we can do exactly what we’ve done today.
“It’s great we are putting in good performances.”
This fifth win of the campaign leaves Lancashire Lightning top of the North Group table, two points clear of Durham Jets and Worcestershire Rapids.
The Lightning visit Notts Outlaws next Friday in the Vitality Blast after returning to Emirates Old Trafford on Sunday to play Yorkshire in the Specsavers County Championship.
Photo: Simon Pendrigh