Lancashire make it five wins in a row to boost Cup hopes
Keaton Jennings struck his third one-day half century of the season while Jake Lehmann made an eye-catching debut to boost Lancashire’s chances of qualification to the knock-out stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup following a 30-run victory over Derbyshire Falcons at Emirates Old Trafford.
With one game remaining against Warwickshire at Edgbaston on Saturday, Lancashire are second in the North Group table with 10 points, having played one more game than third-placed Worcestershire and fourth-placed Durham, both of whom have 8 points. Just the top three teams qualify with leaders Notts meeting Durham tomorrow (Friday) with the final round of games being played next Monday.
Put in to bat in a game reduced to 38 overs per side because of early rain, Lancashire lost Haseeb Hameed to the third ball of the day, stumped by Harvey Hosein after Derbyshire opted to open with the spin of Wayne Madsen. Steven Croft replied by thumping a four and then pulling his 12th delivery from Logan van Beek fiercely over backward square leg for six, but having helped Jennings add 41 he perished to the same shot off Ravi Rampaul with Luis Reece taking the catch a few yards in off the boundary rope.
Dane Vilas pulled Matt Critchley for 6 but the ball after posting the fifty partnership off 48 balls with Jennings, he drove the first ball from Reece that seemed to ‘stick’ in the pitch to Madsen at extra cover to depart for 25 with Lancashire 94-3 at the start of the 17th over.
Jennings forged a great alliance with Lehmann, taking the overseas berth in place of Glenn Maxwell and becoming the 200th player for Lancashire in one-day cricket, the pair adding 86 runs in 14 overs through the middle part of the innings. Jennings, who went to his third one-day half century of the season off 57 balls, struck the ball well throughout despite it not really coming onto the bat. And it was a slower ball that ended the opener’s time at the crease, a leading edge ballooning up and behind to wicketkeeper Hosein off Derbyshire’s overseas fast bowler Logan van Beek after Jennings had made 84 at virtually a run a ball.
Lehmann had batted fairly cautiously throughout the first part of his innings but, having swept Rampaul beautifully over backward square leg for six, seized the initiative following Jennings departure with the score on 151-3 after 27 overs. The Australian left-handed batsman went to his half century from 48 balls and was still there at the end unbeaten on 77 with Lancashire posting 239-6 from their 38 overs.
Unfortunately there was another injury to a Lancashire bowler this season with Liam Hurt left in a heap at the crease after hitting Mark Watt to long-on in the final over of the innings. Thankfully he was able to limp off the field after treatment, but it was later confirmed he had suffered a right knee injury and could face a spell on the sidelines.
Derbyshire made a bright start to their reply with Luis Reece and Falcons’ skipper Billy Godleman taking 46 from the first 9 overs. But disaster struck for the visitors from the first ball of the tenth over when Reece was sent back but run out for 19 by Hameed’s throw from cover.
The spin trio of Croft, Matt Parkinson and Rob Jones then combined to stifle Godleman and Madsen with only 28 runs coming from the following 8 overs and the pressure brought a wicket when Madsen holed out to sub fielder Brooke Guest at long-on off Jones for 14.
Godleman had anchored the innings with 42 but was the next to go when he offered a gentle return catch to Croft, and the Lancashire all-rounder was celebrating another wicket four balls later after trapping Tom Lace lbw for 9 with Derbyshire struggling on 87-4 in the 21st over and matters did not improve for the Falcons.
Alex Hughes was run out for 6 after being sent back by Jennings’ throw from mid-wicket and Critchley drove Matt Parkinson to Jennings at mid-wicket after making 12, leaving Derbyshire well off the required pace on 122-6 needing another 118 off 68 balls.
Anuj Dal and Hosein put bat to ball quite effectively over the closing overs, reaching their 50 partnership off 38 balls with Dal hitting one six and three fours in a career-best 52 before edging behind off Graham Onions.
But they had been left with far too much to do with Lancashire closing out victory in some comfort, the spinners holding the upper hand with a collective 4-100 from 22 overs to shut down the run chase as Derbyshire finished well short on 209-7.
Keaton Jennings praised “a really outstanding win” after Lancashire fought with great determination to seal a fifth straight win today.
“It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for us.” he said.
“Hopefully we can peak at the right time now, win on Saturday and push on to next week in the quarter-finals.
“We’ve had some really good performances over the last ten days, so to put in a performance like that today was absolutely outstanding.
“I thought we were about par with the bat, and our powerplay with the ball was awesome. ‘Hurty’ went down with an injury which was a massive shame and Jonesy sticking his hand up to bowl was awesome.
“We were trying to push towards (a total of) 250. Me and Jake (Lehmann) felt things weren’t quite hitting the middle of the bat. It felt like hard work so in hindsight we maybe could have gone a little bit harder in the powerplay, but you live and you learn and try to push the team into the best position.”
And Jennings was impressed with Lehmann’s first outing with the Red Rose.
“Jake played really nicely,” he said. “It was hard work to get going. Everyone’s strike rate for their first 20 balls was really low.
“One thing he did nicely was to keep hanging in and help keep the innings going. It was a really enjoyable partnership and pushed us to a competitive score.
“”It was one of those pitches where you felt once you’d got a boundary you could get another, and then suddenly feel like you can’t hit the ball off the square.
“So we thought we’d got about par and if we could control the bowling powerplay when they batted we would be in really good shape.
Although Jennings’ enjoyed making another half century he is hungry to do better.
“I’ve felt in really good touch,” he said. “I suppose I haven’t made that contribution to really push us over the line completely.
“But it’s really good to win. Two more points today has put us in the position where if we win on Saturday we could make the quarter-finals.
”At the end of the day it was a really enjoyable win.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell