MATCH PREVIEW: Lancashire Lightning vs Leicestershire Foxes
Lancashire Lightning v Leicestershire Foxes, Vitality Blast
Friday 3 August, 2018
Emirates Old Trafford, 6.30pm
Sponsored by Palletower
Far from a disaster, but Lancashire Lightning have endured a bit of a frustrating week given they lost at Nottinghamshire last Friday and had Sunday’s top of the table clash with Worcestershire rained off at New Road.
However, the Lightning remain in pole position to qualify for the quarter-finals having won five of their eight matches so far, including one against tomorrow’s opponents at Grace Road last month.
Lancashire could actually start tomorrow off top spot in the North Group given Durham, currently one point behind on 10 with a game in hand, face Northamptonshire tonight.
The North Group table is log jammed at the minute, with the top six teams separated by only three points (Lancashire top on 11 and Derbyshire sixth on eight.
Leicestershire play tonight against Birmingham Bears at Grace Road, their second of three games in four days. On Tuesday, they slipped to a 60-run defeat against Yorkshire at Emerald Headingley.
Given Sunday’s washout at Worcester, we did not get to see who Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas were going to pick as a replacement for England Test batsman Keaton Jennings, who played in the last match at Notts.
All-rounders Josh Bohannon and Danny Lamb are in contention to take on that role.
Both men have been in excellent form of late in the seconds, with Bohannon opening the batting in their run to next week’s Finals Day.
He has posted scores of 89 not out, 100, 42 and 39.
Lamb, batting at four, has notched 81 not out and 86 recently.
Leicestershire have had an inconsistent campaign so far.
Ahead of that meeting with Birmingham tonight, they have won three and lost five of their eight matches.
While they can still qualify, they can’t afford too many more slip ups given the amount of teams fighting it out above them.
Captained by South African batsman Colin Ackermann, the Foxes will pose a significant threat. They have overseas duo Mohammad Abbas, the Pakistan seamer, and Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi to call upon.
Former Lancashire duo Gavin Griffiths - a hero at Finals Day in 2015 - and Callum Parkinson are in line to return to Emirates Old Trafford.
Liam Livingstone put in a dominant display as his side's fine start to the 2018 Blast continued with an eight-wicket thrashing of the Foxes at Grace Road last month.
Livingstone's off-spin claimed a career best 4-17 as the Foxes, batting first, collapsed from 88-1 in the 10th over to 142 all out.
Livingstone then smashed 28 in an explosive innings which saw him hit six fours in eleven balls and be dropped twice.
His opening partner Alex Davies struck an unbeaten 51 to see the Lightning to victory with 20 balls to spare.
The win lifted them to the top of the North Group with four wins from five ahead of their Roses clash against the Yorkshire the following night, which they also won.
WHAT THEY SAID
Karl Brown is hoping to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity in Lancashire’s Blast team following the recent broken thumb for Liam Livingstone.
Brown had only played four times in the first team this season prior to last Friday’s defeat against Notts at Trent Bridge, in which he scored 49 at the top of the order.
The Bolton-born batsman had played a quartet of matches in the Royal London one-day Cup and has admitted that he wasn't sure if he would play in the first team again this season.
““I wasn't sure if I would play again (this season),” said the 2015 Blast winner. “Had Livvy stayed fit, maybe I wouldn't have. I felt like a kid again if I’m being honest.
“I wasn't sure if I was going to play, but Chappie gave me the nod. I couldn't wait to get out there. It was nice to have that feeling again.
“It wasn't a chance I was expecting, but it’s one I’m looking to make the most of. I just want to enjoy it.
“To be out there playing for Lancs again in front of a big crowd on a Friday night is brilliant.
“I don’t know how many games I’ll play over the season, but I’ll be giving 100 percent to try and get us to a quarter-final.
“Luck is a big thing in Twenty20 cricket, but with the squad we’ve got we’ve got to look at winning it again. 2015 was an unbelievable experience, and everybody wants to do it all again.”