Match Preview: Lancashire Lightning v Yorkshire Vikings
Talk about Blast off! There could not be a bigger game with which to start our latest bid for Blast silverware.
Lancashire Lightning v Yorkshire Vikings
Vitality Blast, North Group
Emirates Old Trafford
Friday May 27, 2022, 6.30pm
A home Roses game against a Yorkshire team equally packed with star names.
As Lancashire welcome overseas batting star Tim David, the Singapore-born Australian batter, to the county - alongside Liam Livingstone’s availability, Yorkshire will field Pakistan duo Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf.
These two sides have already met in the County Championship this season, a draw over at Headingley on a lifeless pitch.
This fixture, however, promises more thrills and spills in front of a bumper crowd, with Phil Salt set for his home T20 debut and Richard Gleeson in contention for a first first-team game since last August following injury.
Lancashire have not lost a home Roses game since 2014, winning five of the last six games between the two in Manchester, added to a rain-affected tie.
The Blast format is unchanged, albeit a competition concluded much earlier than in previous years. This is the first of 14 North Group games. The top four teams out of nine qualify for the quarter-finals, leading into Finals Day at Edgbaston on Saturday July 16.
Since the start of T20 cricket in England in 2003, the Vikings have only ever reached Finals Day twice and have come up short on both occasions. Underachievement in this competition is something they very much accept.
However, with a new management in place - Ottis Gibson as coach and Darren Gough as their interim managing director of cricket - things could be different.
They have signed Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan, the Pakistan fast bowler and leg-spinning all-rounder, and both will be available to play in Friday’s game.
New Zealand opener Finn Allen, who spent last year’s Blast with Lancashire, will arrive later in the competition and will play in the return fixture at Headingley on June 8.
For tomorrow’s fixture, they will have England’s Dom Bess, Harry Brook, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid and Joe Root available, but not regular captain David Willey, who remains at the Indian Premier League with Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Yorkshire opened their account with a seven-wicket win over Worcestershire at Headingley, chasing 173. Harry Brook continued his excellent form with 60 not out.
Opposing player to watch:
The Vikings are licking their lips following the signing of Pakistan leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan, who will play the first four games before international duty.
He will then return to Headingley to finish the campaign from the ninth group game onwards.
A 23-year-old with more than 100 international caps across all formats, he is the current captain of Islamabad United and was named as the player of the tournament in the most recent Pakistan Super League.
Predominantly a leg-spinner, he is versatile and powerful with the bat.
He batted as high as three for Islamabad earlier this year and scored 268 runs and added to 19 wickets. He can also bat down the order and finish an innings. His tally of 18 sixes was the fourth highest in the 2022 PSL.
While this year’s Roses home fixture is Lancashire’s first of the North Group, last year’s was their last. And they won it by four wickets to join Yorkshire in the quarter-finals.
A low-scoring affair on a sunny mid-July Saturday evening, Luke Wood claimed a superb 4-20 to limit the Vikings to 128-7, including Joe Root’s top score of 32.
In reply, Lancashire got off to a flyer, reaching 37-0 inside three overs, including Finn Allen’s 22 off eight balls. But they slipped to 64-5 in the eighth over to bring the game back into the balance.
Thankfully, a 54-run stand between Luke Wells, who made a crucial and measured 30, and Steven Croft, was enough to seal the win with an over to spare.
While Wells departed late on, Croft finished 26 not out to set up a quarter-final with Somerset at Taunton.
What they said:
Steven Croft has hailed the overseas capture of powerful Tim David, saying: “It’s a great signing and probably what we’ve needed.
Six-hitting machine David is set to debut for the Lightning in front of the TV cameras and is likely to bat somewhere around six in the order in order to finish the innings off with a bang.
“With the likes of Jos when he’s available, Livvy, Salty, we seem like we’ve got the top covered,” continued the 2015 Blast winning captain.
“So to have Tim at the end will be great. Emirates Old Trafford isn’t the easiest of grounds to hit boundaries on at the end. He’s certainly good at that.
“We seem to have depth all the way down, and it’s going to be really exciting to be a part of. Overall, it’s going to be a really strong side, and hopefully we can put the performances in.”
Croft is set for his 17th Blast campaign with the Lightning, with the Roses game still as exciting as ever for the 37-year-old all-rounder from Blackpool.
“It’s a brilliant game to start with,” he added.
“Our record’s good at Emirates Old Trafford against most teams, not just Yorkshire. So hopefully we can get off to a winning start because we all know how much of a part momentum plays in T20.”
Lancashire were undefeated at Emirates Old Trafford in 2021, claiming six wins and a tie.
The Lightning’s seven-game unbeaten run is a record equalling sequence in the Blast, so a victory on Friday night against Yorkshire would set a new club record.