Lancs and Notts tie T20 thriller
Keaton Jennings was run out off the final ball of the match as Lancashire Lightning and Notts Outlaws produced a thrilling Vitality Blast tie, the visitors’ second such result of the season.
With 8 required off the last two balls, the Emirates Old Trafford crowd erupted when Jennings thumped Luke Fletcher’s knee-high full toss over midwicket for six.
Jennings then hammered the final delivery towards extra cover where the Outlaws skipper Steven Mullaney dived to his right, retained his composure to collect the ball and made an accurate throw to wicketkeeper Tom Moores as Jennings attempted in vain to make his ground for a second run that would have won the game.
“It was absolutely gutting,” was Jennings reaction afterwards. “To get so close, and get to the point where you should win it.
“You want to get your team over the line and then you don’t win it and you only walk away with one point.”
But it was thanks to Jennings, who made a fine 88 on his return to the T20 line up, and opening partner Finn Allen who contributed an eye-catching 60 off 43 balls that the Lightning got so close.
The pair had produced an opening stand of 118 in 13 overs in pursuit of Notts’ 172 all out to put the Lightning on course for only their second T20 victory over the Outlaws since 2011.
Jennings struck the first six of the innings when straight driving Jake Ball into the sightscreens in the 3rd over and Allen did likewise off spiner Matt Carter in the following over.
Allen then deposited Fletcher’s first ball over backward square for six more while Jennings brought up the fifty partnership with a six over mid-wicket from the second ball of the 6th over with the Lightning going really well on 64-0 by the end of the powerplay as Allen added consecutive boundaries, both to fine leg, off Jake Ball.
The pair ran hard too to keep the pressure on the visitors and Jennings reverse swept Harrison for four to keep the momentum going before posting the century partnership by lofting the same bowler into the pavilion seats midway through the 11th over.
Allen went to his half century from 36 balls with a towering six off Carter in the following over and Jennings followed to the same landmark from 35 balls moments later.
The partnership was broken one run shy of the Lightning’s best opening stand against Notts from the last ball of the 13th over with the score on 118 when Allen drove Samit Patel to long-off where Joe Clarke took a fine tumbling catch leaving 55 required off 42 balls.
Alex Davies was caught and bowled for a duck by Mullaney off a leading edge but Dane Vilas was quickly into his stride, reverse sweeping Mullaney for four to take Lancashire on to 139-2 after 16 overs leaving 34 required from 24 balls.
But the Outlaws fought back well with some tight bowling over the closing overs to squeeze the Lightning run chase led by Patel who produced 4 excellent overs of spin, taking 1-18 and conceding just one boundary to Jennings.
With 18 required off 10 balls Vilas was caught at deep mid-wicket by Calvin Harrison off Ball for 12 and Jennings and Steven Croft reduced that to 12 needed from the final over bowled by Fletcher.
Four singles left 8 to win from two balls and Jennings’ six looked like it might have done the trick for Lancashire in a pulsating finale. It very nearly did too only for the Lightning to end up feeling frustrated they didn’t quite get over the line.
“It was a really good game of cricket,” reflected Jennings “and great to be a part of but bitterly disappointing when you don’t walk away with all the points.
“We felt their score might be a little over par. We knew the surface was tiring and at halfway (in our innings) we knew it would get harder and harder.
“But we got into a really good position and you can look at a thousand different things from the 240 balls bowled where you think if something goes slightly more your way you get that extra run.
“It wasn’t to be. It was a really entertaining game and the 4,500 here today got their money’s worth which is brilliant.
“It was great to be a part but I’m just disappointed not come away with a win against a really strong Notts side.”
Lancashire had earlier produced a good bowling display against the defending T20 champions to bowl the visitors out for 172.
The Lightning made three changes with Luke Wells making his Lightning T20 debut and joined by Jennings and Rob Jones for their first T20 outing of the season replacing Tom Bailey and England-bound duo Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone while Vilas returned to wicketkeeping duties.
After unchanged Notts had won the toss and elected to bat the Lightning attack took three early wickets in the powerplay to peg the visitors back.
Croft struck first in the 2nd over with his third delivery when Tom Hartley took a steepling catch at extra cover to dismiss Clarke for 4.
Then having struck five consecutive fours off Croft in the 4th over, Alex Hales sliced Hartley to Allen at extra cover after making 33 off 17 balls.
Left hander Sol Budinger pulled Luke Wood to Hartley for 6, as Notts ended the 6 over powerplay on 55-3.
The Foxes fought back with a 58-run partnership between Ben Duckett and Moores although Danny Lamb was unfortunate to see both dropped in the deep off his bowling; first Moores when on 1 and later Duckett on 15.
It was proving hard to keep the excellent Hartley out of the game with the left-arm spinner involved in all of the first four wickets to fall when he trapped Duckett lbw for 35 off 23 balls in the 13th over on his way to a four-over return of 2-25.
Patel pulled Matt Parkinson for six in the 15th over but fell to a great reaction catch by Lamb off his own bowling for 12 to leave Notts 134-5 in the 16th over.
The visitors lost their final five wickets for 38 runs in a frantic effort to hit late innings runs off the final 26 balls to finish on 172 all out.
Mullaney pulled Wood to Parkinson for 6 and Fletcher fell to a catch by Jennings off Parkinson for 3 before three wickets fell in the final over.
Moores reverse swept Parkinson for six before falling for what proved to be a very valuable 40-ball 48 that included just one four and one six, Carter holed out off Lamb (an excellent T20 best of 3-23 from four overs) while Harrison was run out for 7 from the last ball of the innings.
The Lancashire innings was to end the same way later in a thrilling finale for the Lightning’s seventh T20 tie leaving them in fifth place in the North Group table, one point behind leaders Yorkshire at the halfway point of the Vitality Blast competition.
Photos: George Franks and Luke Adams