Lancs win six-run thriller to keep T20 quarter-finals in sight
Lancashire need one more win to seal a place in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals after a thrilling six-run victory against Durham that ended the visitor’s hopes in the competition.
Finn Allen hit Lancashire’s second fastest T20 fifty in making an exhilarating and entertaining 66 off just 29 balls as a rampant Lightning amassed 199-5 against Durham but the North East side produced a great run-chase that kept the result in doubt throughout the evening.
Allen and Keaton Jennings took the Durham bowling apart with a partnership of 101 runs in 8 overs after Dane Vilas had won the toss.
Allen twice pulled Paul van Meekeren for four as 15 runs were plundered from the third over and the floodgates then opened with 85 runs taken from the next 6 overs.
New Zealand opening batsman Allen, who hit eight fours in his 28-ball innings, struck two straight sixes off left-arm spinner Liam Trevaskis and then one from the off-spin of Scott Borthwick that also brought up his half century from just 21 balls, one more than Jos Buttler’s Lancashire record against Worcestershire in 2016.
Jennings, who hit two sixes and 3 fours, provided the perfect support as the opening pair raced to a century partnership in just 8 overs before Allen departed to the first ball of the 9th after hitting Borthwick to Brydon Carse at long-off.
Borthwick (2-30) then picked up his second wicket when Jennings top-edged a sweep to van Meekeren at backward square leg after making 43 off 33 balls with Lancashire 121-2 in the 11th over.
Alex Davies and Vilas continued to keep the momentum going by adding 45 in 6 overs, Vilas falling for 16 to Matty Potts, but Davies crafted a superb 56 off 41 balls that included sixes off Trevaskis and Potts to steer Lancashire to 192-4 before being caught at long-on by Borthwick off Potts from the last ball of the 19th over.
Rob Jones and Luke Wells took that to 199-5 after 20 overs to set Durham a target they had never chased down in T20 cricket, but in the end they came mighty close.
David Bedingham and Graham Clark replied in just as strong a fashion as their Lancashire counterparts in hitting 78 runs from the six over powerplay, three more than the Lightning openers had achieved, with Clark’s first six off Wells in the 7th over setting a new T20 first wicket partnership for Durham against Lancashire.
It was Steven Croft who finally made the breakthrough with his second delivery when Clark was well caught at long-on by Liam Hurt for 37 with the score on 88.
That was the first of three wickets to fall for 8 runs in the space of 11 balls as Bedingham departed the ball after reaching a 23-ball half century when he sliced a top edge off Tom Hartley to substitute fielder Jack Blatherwick (on for Finn Allen) at backward point having made 53.
And Hartley then struck again in the same over having Durham skipper Cameron Bancroft caught off a leading edge by Vilas to leave Durham on 96-3 needing 104 off 11 overs.
That became 63 off 34 balls when Ned Eckersley top edged Luke Wood to Keaton Jennings at cover for 14 in the 15th over.
But Sean Dickson, who hit a six that smashed a pane of glass on the Lancashire player’s balcony, produced a great innings for his team with a half-century from 31 balls to keep Durham in touch.
Dickson and Carse hit 48 off 26 balls to reduce the visitor’s target to 15 off 7 balls but Dickson holed out for 53 off the last ball of the 19th over from Wood with Croft taking the catch just inside the long-off boundary.
That left Carse and Ben Raine seeking 15 runs off six balls but a superb final over by Danny Lamb, with no boundary conceded, took Lancashire though to a breathless six-run victory, Carse finishing unbeaten on 29 from 18 balls.
Lancashire face Yorkshire tomorrow evening (5pm) seeking one more win to go through.
Alex Davies, who made a vital contribution through the second half of Lancashire’s innings tonight said:
“When we bat first at Emirates Old Trafford and get a score on the board like that, we’re confident.
“Our openers came off and said that 200 was a good score.
“It definitely got harder to score the more the innings went on, as you saw with them.
“With 200 on the board at Old Trafford, we’d back ourselves to beat anyone.”
And Davies feels he has adjusted to moving down to bat at number three this season.
“It’s been very different. But with players like Finn and Keats at the top, I’ll play wherever is best for the team,” he said.
“I can only grow from this experience. I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s been different for me and there are definitely things I’ve learnt from this year.”
With one more game to go Davies believes the team are putting in a great run to finish the group campaign.
“It’s knockout cricket now,” he added. “We’ve got to win no matter what. That suits us.
“We’ve often just scraped through the group stages with a couple of late wins, and that momentum is crucial. We thrive off this.”
Photos: George Franks & Luke Adams