Lancashire Lightning cruise to victory in Leicester
Unbeaten North Group leaders Lancashire Lightning made it five wins from six as they defeated Leicestershire Foxes, who have lost all three home Vitality Blast fixtures, yet won three from four on the road.
The Foxes opted to make first use of what looked a good batting surface but were bowled out for just 135, failing to complete their 20 overs despite 50 from Lewis Hill. The Lightning spinners held sway, sharing six wickets and conceding only 73 runs in 11 overs.
The visitors cruised past their target in the 18th overs to win by seven wickets with 23 balls to spare, veteran all-rounder Steven Croft top-scoring with 45 off 46 balls.
The combination of competitively priced tickets and away wins over Yorkshire, Birmingham Bears and Worcestershire by the Foxes attracted a full house of around 5,000 to the Uptonsteel County Ground but it was an unrewarding night for most of them.
A wet ball after a couple of hefty showers during the Lightning innings did not help matters for the Foxes bowlers, although against a batting line-up as strong as Lancashire’s they would have struggled to defend such a low total even in perfect conditions.
Leading wicket-taker Naveen-ul-Haq removed Keaton Jennings via a caught-behind off an inside edge on to pad and ended an 81-partnership between Croft and Phil Salt (38 off 34) when the latter skied one to deep square leg.
Croft, who looked nailed on for his first half-century of the season, was run out after a suicidal call for a second run by skipper Dane Vilas, but with only 36 more needed from 46 balls the outcome was never in serious doubt.
Tim David, who lost his off-stump to Ben Mike in swinging at a free hit on 19, won the contest with a six over wide long-on off Naveen, finishing with 24 off 17 balls.
Hamish Rutherford’s disappointing debut season for the Foxes continued with a second-ball duck as he punched Richard Gleeson straight to the fielder at short third man, leaving the New Zealand opener with just 51 runs from seven innings.
Otherwise, it was a satisfactory powerplay for Leicestershire Foxes, for whom Hill was profitably innovative. Arron Lilley’s first scoring shot against his former county went back over off-spinner Liam Livingstone’s head for six.
Hill ramped a six as Gleeson’s second over went for 14 compared with three off his first as the Foxes posted 54 for two from six, Scott Steel the other casualty when he hit straight to mid-off. Hill and Lilley added 41 and the Foxes looked well set at 78 for two before the latter was caught at long-on in the 11th.
But Lightning spinners successfully applied the brake and claimed five wickets as the Foxes stumbled to 125 for seven, two for Matt Parkinson, who removed Rehan Ahmed via a catch at long-on after the youngster had clubbed him over cover for six, two for left-arm spinner Tom Hartley, who dismissed Rishi Patel and Mike in consecutive overs, and one for Tim David, who held a low return catch moments after Hill had completed his first half-century of the season.
Callum Parkinson was leg before to a Danny Lamb slower ball, Naveen run out by a direct hit from cover and Colin Ackermann was caught at mid-wicket for 25 as the Foxes innings ended after one ball of the 20th over.