Livingstone strikes to down the Rapids
Liam Livingstone struck with bat and ball to help Lancashire Lightning to a convincing 21-run win on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method against defending Vitality Blast Champions Worcestershire Rapids at Emirates Old Trafford.
Livingstone took three important wickets to help restrict the visitors to 130-9 and then blasted the Rapids attack for 21 runs from 14 balls to get the Lightning reply off the best possible start and well ahead of the DLS par score with rain threatening.
The weather finally intervened after nine overs with Lancashire comfortably ahead, and with the rain continuing to fall play was eventually called off at 9.20pm.
Lancashire’s bowlers produced a superb effort after visiting captain Brett D’Oliveira had won the toss, restricting Worcestershire to 130-9 from their 20 overs with Livingstone taking 3-21 and two wickets apiece for Richard Gleeson, James Faulkner and Matt Parkinson.
Once Lancashire had claimed the early wickets of Riki Wessels for 3, caught by Glenn Maxwell at mid-off from Faulkner’s third ball, and Callum Ferguson-palpably lbw for 12 to a Gleeson yorker-the visitors became becalmed after being 34-2 in the 5th over.
The Worcestershire batsmen struck just three boundaries in a barren 14-over spell as the Lightning attack dominated.
A frustrated D’Oliveira swept Livingstone’s first ball to Croft at deep backward square leg after making 13 to leave the Rapids on 66-3 at the start of the 11th over and two overs later opener Martin Guptill launched the leg spinner high to Faulkner at long-off to depart for 37 off 33 balls.
Gleeson (2-13 from 3 overs) ended the 14th over by bowling Ross Whiteley for 3 with another superb yorker to make the score 84-5 and Worcestershire were only saved from posting a really poor total by some late hitting from Wayne Parnell with two sixes in his 9-ball innings of 19 as wickets tumbled.
The Lightning attack bowled just one wide-in the 20th over-to underline a disciplined, accurate performance that stymied the Rapids batsmen’s attempts to break the shackles.
Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone then savaged the Rapids opening attack with three boundaries each in a partnership of 38 off 24 balls.
But the fourth over of the innings will live longest in the memory of those present.
Livingstone brought the crowd to its feet when audaciously scooping Parnell twice in three balls with both shots perfectly executed and the ball sailing high over the boundary on both occasions for six, hitting the Media Centre wall at the Statham End.
If that left Parnell distinctly unimpressed, the bowler was celebrating moments later when Ed Barnard pulled off a sensational one-handed diving catch after Livingstone had hooked a short ball to the deep backward square leg boundary.
Livingstone departed for 21, but his innings had been decisive.
Steven Croft drove his first ball for four to keep up the attack, adding 33 runs in 5 overs with Davies to keep Lancashire well ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) par score throughout the run chase.
The pair had progressed smoothly to take Lancashire to 71-1 after 9 overs, Davies unbeaten on 29 off 24 balls with Croft 13 not out, when rain arrived to prevent any further play, leaving the Lightning winners by 21 runs.
Liam Livingstone was delighted to have contributed to a third Lancashire T20 victory that has taken the Lightning to the top of the North Group table.
“We’ve always started slowly and then had to catch up at the back end, so it’s nice (to have started this way),” he said.
“It’s been a great start, the boys are playing some good cricket and if you look around our dressing room we’ve got plenty of match winners and people keep stepping up at the right times."
Lancashire produced a fairly typical bowling performance, taking pace off the ball and using their spinners effectively with the boundary ropes pushed right back, and making it hard for the opposition to build momentum.
“It’s something we pride ourselves on,” admitted Livingstone. “Knowing our ground well, trying to keep the powerplay score to a minimum and then squeeze with our spinners.
“I thought we did that tonight as a unit. We fielded really well, cut down the twos and boundaries weren’t easy to hit.
“It was a decent bowling performance and when we batted me and Alex knew the first three overs were going to be key. We needed to get as many as we could before the pitch starting holding up again.
“Thankfully we got off to a decent start and that gave us the chance to then knock it around. Hopefully we could have cruised home, but the rain arrived.
“But a win is a win.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell