Lancashire outfoxed by Leicestershire in final home game
A triple-wicket over by off spinner Colin Ackermann led Leicestershire Foxes to a 22-run Vitality Blast victory against Lancashire Lightning on what proved to be the final day’s play at Emirates Old Trafford in 2020.
The result means that both Lancashire and Leicestershire are through to the quarter-finals on 1st October with Lancashire travelling to Hove to play Sussex.
Leicestershire had posted 154-5 after skipper Ackermann had won the toss, and it was the captain who turned the game around in the 16th over of the Lightning reply.
With Lancashire in contention on 112-1 and Alex Davies and Steven Croft well set in a 74-run partnership, Ackermann produced a stunning over to send both batsman back to the dressing room along with Josh Bohannon. When Dane Vilas drove Dieter Klein to Ackermann at cover in the following over, four wickets had gone for two runs in seven balls – and there was no way back for Lancashire from that point.
Liam Livingstone had taken two sixes off Callum Parkinson in the third over of the Lightning innings before driving Gavin Griffiths to Ackermann at mid-off after making 20.
Davies and Steven Croft combined to keep Lancashire well in the hunt with a battling partnership on a slowish surface, reaching the halfway stage on 67-1 and Croft driving Gareth Delaney for a six and a four as the 12th over yielded 13 runs. The all-rounder next pulled Griffiths over the mid-wicket boundary to take the Lightning to 97-1 after 13 overs.
Davies reached his half century from 46 balls in magnificent fashion with a six over mid-wicket off Parkinson leaving 43 required from 30 balls.
But then followed that decisive over from Ackermann and from there the Foxes eased to victory.
At the start of the day Luke Wood produced an outstanding three over opening spell of 1-5, including the wicket of Delaney, to help restrict the Foxes to 39-1 in the powerplay despite Nick Welch twice pulling Saqib Mahmood for six over square leg in the bowler’s opening over.
Welch hit both spinners, Livingstone and Matt Parkinson for straight sixes on his way to 43 off 36 balls before he tried to go big again but only found Bohannon at deep wicket off Livingstone at the end of the 10th over with Leicestershire 71-2.
The Lightning attack in fact tied down the Foxes through these middle overs before Arron Lilley broke a spell of six overs without a boundary by seizing on anything over pitched and hitting two straight sixes in the 14th and 15th overs to push the Foxes on to 111-2.
Lilley looked destined to reach a half century but on 49 top-edged a pull off Parkinson to wicketkeeper Davies, ending a 49-run partnership with Ackermann.
Harry Dearden was bowled by Mahmood for 1, but Ackermann and Swindells added a useful 28 off 15 balls before the former was run out for 29 off the penultimate ball, with Leicestershire finishing on 154-5, and that late surge proved vital later on.
"We’re disappointed. The last two games we’ve played haven’t been acceptable but you have to take into account that we are a young side and there are not as many T20 games in the eleven as we are used to," said Alex Davies.
"It’s important we take the last two losses and learn from them.
"T20 can be a game of momentum," he added. "So we do need to address and arrest what’s happened.
"We’ve got a few days off now so hopefully we can have a debrief and go again in the quarters.
"If we’d have won two games we’d have wanted the quarters to be tomorrow but we’ll dust ourselves down and have a look at what we could have done better.
"We have had the worse of conditions, losing two tosses and chasing on two used pitches but that’s no excuse, we should be able to perform better than we have."
Photos: Barry Mitchell