Match Preview: Nottinghamshire Outlaws v Lancashire Lightning
Lancashire Lightning look to bounce back in their second away game in less than 24 hours
Vitality Blast, North Group
Saturday June 26, 2021, 3pm
The situation could have been significantly worse for Lancashire after last night’s defeat to Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
The Lightning lost for the second time in a four-game winless stretch, including a tie and a No Result. Yes, it leaves them outside of the top four quarter-final places. But they are fifth and still very much in touch.
Nobody in the top four won last night. Yorkshire and Durham were losers, Birmingham didn’t play and, incredibly, Nottinghamshire tied for the third time in eight games - at Derbyshire.
It means Lancashire, with eight points from as many games, are only a point outside the top four and only three off leaders Notts.
Everybody (aside from Derbyshire in seventh place - they have played 10) has played eight and have six to play in the group stage.
A win today would end a nasty run of form for the Red Rose at Trent Bridge, a venue where they have not won a T20 game since 2009. They have lost their last eight fixtures there.
That 2009 clash saw the Lightning chase 174 to win by nine wickets, with Steven Croft and VVS Laxman sharing an unbroken 162 for the second wicket. That was Lancashire’s record partnership at the time and remains their second highest in Blast history.
Two games in less than 24 hours means Lancashire named a 14-man squad for both, including Saqib Mahmood, who made his return from an abdominal injury at Northampton last night with figures of 1-26 from 3.2 overs as the hosts chased 131 to win by seven wickets with 10 balls to spare.
Notts veteran all-rounder Peter Trego, who played in the early stages of this season’s Blast before making way for young batsman Sol Budinger, has his attention on a different sport this weekend.
He has entered qualification for the Open Championship Golf and will play his first qualifying round tomorrow.
After a shaky start with a tie at Worcestershire and a home defeat to Birmingham, Nottinghamshire have gone unbeaten through their next six games, winning four of them and securing ties in the other two.
The defending champions sit top of the North with 11 points from nine games and have a marginally better net run-rate than second-placed Yorkshire, who also have 11 points.
Last night, almost unbelievably, they tied for the third time in this season’s Blast.
That came at Derby, with both sides finishing on 137-9 and the hosts failing to chase after they had been 68-0 in the eighth over.
The other ties came at Worcestershire on the opening night of the competitions and against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford on Sunday.
Notts suffered a huge blow on the eve of the competition when their long-standing veteran captain Dan Christian was called up by Australia and forced to withdraw from the competition. He has been replaced by club captain Steven Mullaney, the former Lancashire all-rounder.
The usual suspects are having a strong campaign; the likes of Alex Hales, Joe Clarke and Ben Duckett with the bat and Jake Ball, Matt Carter and Samit Patel with the ball.
On Tuesday, coach Peter Moores described their 10-wicket home win over Worcester, when they restricted the visitors to 86-8 and chased it with ease, as the “complete performance”.
Patel, with his left-arm spin, returned figures of 4-1-4-3, the most economical four-over spell in Blast history.
Last Friday, during a win over Derbyshire, he became the first Englishman to take 250 wickets and score 5,000 runs in T20 cricket.
On Sunday at Emirates Old Trafford, Lancashire, chasing a target of 173, finished on 172-4, the match ending in a tie.
Unfortunately, having been 118-0 in the 13th over of their chase, it felt more like a defeat than a victory even though they did well to get seven runs off the last two balls with eight needed.
Keaton Jennings hit a six off the penultimate delivery from Luke Fletcher, but he was unable to scramble two off the last ball and was run out.
The left-handed opener was the Lightning’s standout performer with 88 off 61 balls in his first Blast appearance of the season following the departures of Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone to England duty.
He shared 113 for the first wicket with Finn Allen, who made 60. However, excellent death bowling from Fletcher and Jake Ball brought the Outlaws back into the game.
Earlier, Danny Lamb returned 3-23 from four overs, added to two wickets apiece for Tom Hartley and former Outlaw Luke Wood as Notts were bowled out.
One time Lancashire loanee Tom Moores, son of Peter, top-scored for them with a measured 48 in the middle order.
What they said:
Dane Vilas is backing Lancashire to return to winning ways in the Blast.
The Red Rose have not won since Derbyshire away last week to dent their chances of quarter-final qualification.
They are four games without a win, but the captain insists: “We’re close to playing good cricket in all facets of the game - batting, bowling and fielding - so it’s disappointing we haven’t strung performances together.
“You don’t want to leave it too late. We need to start winning again, and we’ve got some big games coming up.”
Vilas was speaking after last night’s defeat at Northamptonshire.
While the South African wasn’t around in 2015, Lancashire have a history of sneaking into the quarter-finals with some late group stage wins. That was what they did six years ago and went on to win the competition.
“Hopefully we can turn our T20 season around,” he added.
“We had a great game against Notts last time and unfortunately couldn’t get over the line.
“Going there, we know they play well and it’s a great ground for them. But hopefully we can find some form at the right time and peak from there.”