Match Preview: Lancashire Lightning vs Leicestershire Foxes
Lancashire can still secure a home quarter-final if they beat the Foxes, but they will need things to fall into place elsewhere
The Lightning, stung by yesterday’s heavy home defeat at the hands of Durham, can still secure a home tie in next month’s quarter-finals.
But they are relying on a result elsewhere to help them out.
Lancashire have to beat the Foxes tomorrow and hope South Group leaders Surrey beat second-placed Kent at the Kia Oval.
If Kent, currently on the same 12 points as the Red Rose with a better net run-rate, win, they would secure a home quarter as the best second-placed finisher across the three groups no matter what happens up at Emirates Old Trafford.
Already qualified for the quarter-finals (Thursday 1 October), Dane Vilas and co are aiming to regain the momentum they had previously gained through some excellent cricket, especially in back-to-back Roses wins over Yorkshire in front of the TV cameras on Monday and Thursday.
After the majority of the summer without cricket at our headquarters, home games come thick and fast - a third in four days.
The Foxes still have the slimmest chance of reaching the last eight following an impressive victory over North Group leaders Nottinghamshire Outlaws at the Fischer County Ground last night.
They chased down 163 on the back of Colin Ackermann’s unbeaten 67 to win by four wickets with a ball remaining, with Notts hit by five penalty runs imposed on the back of a ‘fake fielding’ incident early in the Leicester chase.
While Lancashire have won five of nine group games, this was their third win.
They are currently on nine points in fourth, level with third-placed Durham. That means they could still finish as one of the two best third-placed teams who advance to the knockouts.
But they require a series of results to go their way plus a massive net run-rate swing.
Richard Gleeson (back) and Keaton Jennings (calf) remain sidelined due to injury.
Glen Chapple and Dane Vilas will have to decide on whether to give the players who played in yesterday’s 74-run defeat by Durham the chance to put things right or if the odd change is required.
Leicestershire, early pacesetters in T20 cricket with a trio of titles in 2004, 2006 and 2011 have developed into side who only challenge for the knockout stages infrequently.
Consistency is an issue for them but they can be an extremely dangerous side, as Yorkshire and Notts have found out at Grace Road over the last week or so.
Having posted 188/6, Yorkshire were in a strong position last Friday. But powerful batting duo Gareth Delany and captain Colin Ackermann led their side to a last ball win, with three needed (seamer Ben Mike hit Adam Lyth for a straight six).
Irish opener Delany, one of only a few overseas players employed in the competition, smacked 64 off 41 balls and Ackermann 58 of 34.
Former Lancashire spinner Arron Lilley has developed his batting to the extent he is better than just a pinch-hitter, though he still does not hold back at number three in the order and has gone beyond 200 competition runs - 228 to be precise. He is their leading run-scorer.
Delany is just short of 200 competition runs and has contributed six wickets with his leg-spinners, while ex-Red Rose slow left-armer Callum Parkinson is their leading wicket-taker with nine.
Parkinson claimed two wickets against Notts, restricting them to 162/7, while former Lancashire Blast winner Gavin Griffiths struck once and seamer Will Davis three times.
In reply, composed South African Ackermann anchored the chase with his 67 off 53 balls.
Lancashire were excellent with the ball and sensational in the field, but it counted for only one point as rain forced an abandonment at the halfway stage of the return fixture at Grace Road on the final Saturday of last month.
The Lightning restricted the Foxes to 150/9 having elected to bowl, with Tom Bailey’s career best 5/17 from four overs representing the county’s second best bowling figures in T20 history.
Stephen Parry’s 5/13 against Worcestershire at Emirates Old Trafford in 2016 retains the record.
Bailey also took a stunning catch at cover to help Liam Hurt get rid of George Rhodes as the hosts slipped from 87/3 in the 12th over to 125/7 in the 18th.
Captain Dane Vilas led the memorable fielding effort with a hat-trick of catches, leading Bailey to hail the South African as “superman”.
Rain arrived late in the Leicester innings and prevented Lancashire from starting their reply.
WHAT THEY SAID
Luke Wood, who claimed two wickets in as many overs against Durham yesterday, is backing his team-mates to bounce back quickly from the nightmare loss.
“Having lost, the incentive to win is even more so,” said the left-arm quick.
“We want to play our quarter-final here (Emirates Old Trafford) because it’s been a bit of a fortress for us.
“We have to learn from the Durham game and park it. Leicester will be a completely new game and a new day. I’m confident we’ll be much better.”
If Lancashire can reach Finals Day, it would be Wood’s third successive appearance there, all with different teams.
In 2018, he helped Worcestershire to glory before being beaten in last season’s semi-finals for Nottinghamshire against Worcester.
He added: “I’d love to add to the collection with Lancs.
“It’s a competition we pride ourselves on, and it would be great to win it.”
David Lloyd are sponsors for tomorrow's match.