Match Preview: Lightning vs Bears
Birmingham visit Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow as Lancashire look to beat the side who handed them a first Vitality Blast defeat of the season last week
Lancashire suffered their only defeat of the Blast so far against the Bears at Edgbaston on Sunday and will be looking to avenge that defeat.
But the Lightning showed their mettle against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road last night, chasing 158 to win by eight wickets with nine balls to spare.
James Faulkner took three wickets and Liam Livingstone two as well as hitting a brisk 22 at the start of the chase. But opening partner Alex Davies stole the show with a season’s best unbeaten 75.
It means, having strengthened their position at the top of the North Group, they now have one hand on a place in the quarter-finals having won six of their 10 games. There are still four to play.
Birmingham have had a mixed campaign so far and sit on the fringes of the top four places for quarter-final qualification.
Their home victory over the Lightning was their third from nine games.
Lancashire were forced into a change at Northants last night, bringing Danny Lamb in for overseas all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who sat the game out with a tight hamstring. Lamb bowled two overs for 16 and did not bat.
It remains to be seen whether Maxwell will be fit for the Birmingham clash, but there is no doubt the Red Rose have bigger fish to fry in the grand scheme of their season.
Sunday’s County Championship top v second clash with Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay is a huge fixture, and a win for Lancashire would all but secure promotion with three games remaining.
So if Maxwell is even the slightest doubt to face the Bears, Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas will surely err on the side of caution.
Champions in 2014 - they beat Lancashire in the final - the Bears failed to make it out of the group stage last year and have a battle on to rectify that this year given they sit outside the top four in the North ahead of their final five games.
The Bears, captained by New Zealander Jeetan Patel, have drafted in another off-spinner in Australian Chris Green as a replacement for injured compatriot Ashton Agar.
Green, a Sydney Thunder player in the Big Bash who has made himself a valuable asset on the domestic T20 circuit, has most recently played in Canada and will travel from England to the West Indies for the Caribbean Premier League.
Birmingham have also had a No Result added to their four defeats, while they also tied against Yorkshire at Emerald Headingley last Sunday as both sides posted 177-4.
Their leading run-scorer so far is England Lions batsman Sam Hain, who has hit two fifties in a haul of 336 runs from eight innings.
Highly-rated 19-year-old quick Henry Brookes is leading their wickets’ list with 12, but ex-West Indies fast bowler Fidel Edwards is close behind on nine.
Edwards, 37, is nearly twice the age of Brookes, but is still bounding in having moved on loan from Hampshire purely for this competition. Veteran skipper Patel has chipped in with eight wickets.
Back to the batting, and England Test hopeful Dom Sibley is enjoying a superb summer.
An opener who has starred in a struggling Championship side, the ex-Surrey man has scored two fifties in four innings in the Blast this year, against both Roses rivals Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Birmingham Bears sealed a 15-run win over North Group leaders Lancashire at Edgbaston on Sunday, defending a 180 target despite a stunning 79 off 39 balls from Glenn Maxwell.
Adam Hose starred with the bat for Bears - hitting seven sixes in 65 from just 34 balls, underpinning a home total of 179-6, also including 51 from opener Dom Sibley after Jeetan Patel had elected to bat.
Liam Livingstone and Matthew Parkinson claimed three wickets apiece for the Lightning, with the latter’s 3-23 from four overs the pick of the figures.
In reply, the visitors slipped to 28-3 inside six overs, only for Australian star Maxwell to keep hopes alive with his fabulous knock.
He shared 107 in 10.2 overs for the fourth wicket with Keaton Jennings, who impressed with a busy 35.
But when Maxwell was bowled by medium pacer Will Rhodes (135-4 in the 16th), the Lightning struggled to stay in the hunt and lost regular wickets, finishing on 164-7.
WHAT THEY SAID
Opening batsman Alex Davies says Lancashire’s win over Northants last night sends a strong message about the character and quality within their side.
Davies starred with 75 to underpin a routine chase of 158 at Wantage Road, helping recover from the slip-up against Birmingham at Edgbaston a few days earlier - their only defeat so far.
The Lightning won by eight wickets to clinch their sixth win from 10 games, and they had to do it without talismanic overseas all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who was nursing a tight hamstring.
Davies said: “Sunday we weren’t at our best in any facet of the game.
“We started slow with the ball, weren’t on fire in the field and, obviously, chasing we lost too many wickets early. Losing three in the power play chasing, you’re going to struggle.
“Losing’s never good, but if you want to lose it was probably that one to give us a bit of a shock.
“We addressed where we went wrong, and now we’ll try and gain some momentum again.
“It’s always important to bounce back.
“We know that momentum’s big in T20, and if you lose a couple then people start doubting you and things can spread throughout the group.
“We sat down, had a good chat and were determined to peg it back today.”
The 24-year-old from Darwen, who hit his first Blast fifty of 2019, went on: “I haven’t contributed as much as I’d like this tournament so far, but that’s T20 cricket. It can happen. You can get out in the power play.
“But, with Maxi not being in the team, someone had to stand up and grab it by the scruff of the neck and say, ‘I’m going to do it’. It was just my night.
“It sends a message to everyone else that he’s not playing, but we’ve got others who can step up.
“If I didn’t do it, Livvy would have done or Dane or Faulkner. The list goes on.”
Of tomorrow’s ‘Bear hunt’, he added: “At home against Birmingham, we’ll go again. We’re keen to bounce back against them having played quite poorly on Sunday. That’s the added incentive.
“We talk about the top four and qualifying, but we want to keep this momentum going right through to Finals Day.”
Thomas Cook competition
To celebrate Lancashire Lightning’s success in the Vitality Blast, our match sponsor for the fixture against Birmingham Bears on 16 August, Thomas Cook Sport, is giving fans the chance to win a seat upgrade here at Emirates Old Trafford.
To be in with the chance of winning, all you need to do is share a picture or video of yourself on social media imitating your favourite umpire calls and signals from the Emirates Old Trafford stands on the day, before 6pm, including the hashtag #SayYouWereThere and tag @ThomasCookSport in the post.
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