Match Preview: Middlesex vs Lancashire, Quarter-Final
Middlesex vs Lancashire
Royal London One-Day Cup, Quarter-Final
Friday 10 May, 1pm.
Lancashire are closing in on a dream Lord’s Final later this month.
The Red Rose must win two away games, the first of them ironically at the Home of Cricket against Middlesex tomorrow, to reach their first Lord’s showpiece since 2006.
Tomorrow’s clash will decide who goes on to face Hampshire in the Semi-Final at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday.
The Red Rose qualified third in the North Group with five wins from eight games, while Stuart Law’s Middlesex finished second in the South with six wins.
These two have not met in List A cricket since 2015 when Lancashire won a low-scoring RL50 thriller at Blackpool.
The sides have not met at Lord’s since 2012 in the Clydesdale Bank 40 group stage. Paul Stirling and Eoin Morgan both hit centuries in a 167-run home success.
Lancashire recovered to reach the Semi-Finals, when they were beaten by Warwickshire at Emirates Old Trafford. They have failed to get beyond the group stage of every List A competition since. Until now.
Liam Livingstone is available for selection for the first time this season after his stint with Rajasthan Royals at the Indian Premier League.
It would be a surprise if the former captain is not selected by Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas.
Australian Jake Lehmann continues as the club’s overseas player in this competition.
A man who played in Lancashire’s last Lord’s final appearance will be trying to prevent them getting there again.
Red Rose favourite Stuart Law is now coaching Middlesex and will come up against his former charges for the second time in a month.
Middlesex secured second spot in the North courtesy of victory over Kent at Canterbury on Tuesday as they racked up 380-5 and won by 33 runs.
Left-hander Max Holden, a spitting image of Alastair Cook at the crease, scored a superb 166 at the top of the order, while New Zealand overseas batsman Ross Taylor added 94.
In Nick Gubbins, who bats three and has scored 417 runs, they have one of the nine men to have tripped 400 runs across the competition so far. Lancashire’s Steven Croft is another (438).
Leg-spinner Nathan Sowter has taken 24 wickets, more than anybody else in the country. He is three ahead of Saqib Mahmood.
Middlesex have not won List A silverware since claiming the 1988 NatWest Trophy. Lancashire’s last List A silverware came in 1999 when they secured the CGU National League crown.
After Lancashire’s opening RL50 match of 2015 was abandoned against Sussex at Horsham, they lost against Essex at Chelmsford.
But a win would soon ease their worries, and it came in breathtaking fashion as they beat Middlesex, featuring former Red Rose seamer Junaid Khan, by two wickets chasing 162 with only two overs to spare in late July.
In seaming conditions, Tom Bailey claimed three wickets and Australian James Faulkner two as Middlesex were bowled out for 161, with only three men, John Simpson (20), James Harris (32) and Toby Roland-Jones (29) reaching or passing 20.
In reply, Lancashire also struggled and slipped into trouble at 93-6, with Pakistani Junaid claiming two of this three wickets.
But the middle to lower order rallied.
Faulkner and fellow all-rounder Jordan Clark shared 47 for the seventh wicket before both fell for 35 and 29 as the game swung again at 147-8.
But, with Lancashire needing 15, Stephen Parry and fledgling seamer Bailey hit nine not out and five not out respectively to seal the two points.
Unfortunately, the Lightning were later unable to qualify out of the group.
WHAT THEY SAID
Liam Livingstone is happy to be back home and ready to help Lancashire to Royal London glory.
Livingstone, available for selection for the first time this season, has spent close to three months playing T20 cricket in the Pakistan Super League and the Indian Premier League.
But he has been following Lancashire’s progress through the club’s live stream and is confident of success against Middlesex and then, hopefully, Hampshire.
“I’ve been following the boys on the streams and commentary, and they’ve been playing some really good One-Day cricket,” he said.
“We were in a fortunate position where we got helped by the rain on the other side of the Pennines, which was nice. Hopefully we can capitalise.
“We have a good enough squad to put in two good performances over the weekend to get to a Lord’s Final.
“We’ve got our Lord’s Quarter-Final first!
“If we play to our potential, we’ll be a challenge for any side. It’s very much game by game. As soon as you take your eye off the ball, it can come crashing down.
“The boys look in great nick. I trained with them for the first time yesterday morning, and it seems like a very happy camp. So it’s great for me to be back and to slot straight back into the dressing room.
“Hopefully, if selected, I can contribute to a win.”
On his time away, with Karachi Kings and the Rajasthan Royals, the latter for whom he only played four times, he said: “It was good fun, and I learnt so much over the three-month period.
“But it becomes very tough when you’re training with not much of an end goal.
“You’re almost just waiting for people to fail before you get a chance. It was a learning experience, in that regard.
“The competitions were very different.
“I was quite lucky in the PSL because I played every game. I really enjoyed that tournament, and it was a lot better standard than I thought it would be.
“The PSL was good because I learnt from playing games, and the IPL I learnt from people around me and the workings of the tournament.”
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