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MATCH REPORT: Century stand steers Lightning to convincing Blast win against Notts

MATCH REPORT: Century stand steers Lightning to convincing Blast win against Notts

Half centuries by Dane Vilas and Steven Croft, who posted a record-breaking third-wicket century partnership against Notts, took Lancashire back to the top of the Vitality Blast North Group table as the Lightning romped to a convincing six-wicket victory against the Outlaws at sunny Blackpool.

Chasing a target of 180 after a fine bowling performance had restricted the visitors’ powerful batting line-up, Vilas and Croft dominated from the moment they arrived at the crease with the Lancashire skipper striking the ball in authoritative fashion in racing to a 24-ball fifty.

                                         

Croft, on his home ground, hit two of the first five balls he faced for four and six as the pair shrugged off the early loss of Keaton Jennings - who had drilled a couple of sixes in his 13-ball 24 - and Josh Bohannon for 7 that had left Lancashire on 31-2 at the start of the fifth over.

The pair both took a brace of fours off Dan Christian’s first over (the sixth) to set the tempo and Croft then lofted Samit Patel for six over midwicket in the next over while Vilas pulled Luke Fletcher over backward square for his second six to reach his half century.

                                       

Notts failed to stem the onslaught with the pair steering Lancashire to 102-2 at the halfway stage and well on course for victory with the sell-out crowd giving the team great support.

Croft took a slightly more sedate 34 balls to arrive at his fifty moments before Vilas fell for 55 to a catch at deep midwicket off Dane Paterson to end an alliance of 114 off 62 balls in the 15th over - the best third wicket Lightning stand against Notts.

By then Lancashire were 145-3 and just 35 runs away from their target.

                                           

Tim David chipped Patel to Mullaney for 5 but Luke Wells (18 not out) provided Croft, who finished unbeaten on 61, with great support to steer the Lightning home with ten balls to spare.

The victory takes Lancashire back to the top of the table on 15 points from 10 games, one point head of Northants Steelbacks and three ahead of both Birmingham Bears and Derbyshire Falcons.

Notts produced an uneven batting display in the face some good Lancashire bowling after Vilas had won the toss and opted to bowl.

Alex Hales struck a four and two sixes off Tom Bailey’s first three deliveries in the third over but his attempt to hit another of the fourth fell short and was caught by Bohannon on the mid-wicket boundary.

Richard Gleeson backed up that breakthrough with an excellent opening three over spell of 1-14 that included the wicket of Joe Clarke for 6 in the 4th over to slow the Outlaws progress at 35-2.

                                                 

Ben Duckett and Samit Patel rebuilt with a solid 46-run partnership before Duckett fell for 29 in unusual circumstances after the batsman edged Tom Hartley onto Vilas’ helmet with the wicketkeeper – who was standing up - reacting quickly enough to complete a diving catch to leave Notts on 81-3 after 9 overs.

And Lancashire put the squeeze on the Outlaws with 28 runs coming from the following five overs of spin from Wells, Hartley and David.     

                                           

Patel had an escape on 22 when he swept Hartley to deep backward square but Danny Lamb’s great leaping effort to take the catch was just over the boundary rope.

But Patel went on the attack in the 14th over, doubling his boundary count with consecutive fours off David to advance the Outlaws on to 126-4 and well positioned for a late overs charge.

Two wickets in the 15th over put a huge dent in those ambitions. First Tom Moores ran a quick two only to find out his batting partner Patel had only run one and was stood rooted next to him at the same end, Moores the man to go for 16.

Three balls later Patel holed out to Wells at deep midwicket off Hartley for 45 while Wells found reward for a fine four-over spell of 1-20 with the wicket of Mullaney lbw for 4 to leave the Outlaws on 132-6 with four overs left.  

Some lusty late blows by Harrison, who was caught and bowled for 17 by Lamb in the final over, and Christian (30 not out off 14 balls) helped Notts close 179-7.

It was a below-par total that Lancashire chased down with relative ease.

Steven Croft was thrilled with the performance and the return to winning ways after two defeats.

“We’ve got a win against one of the better teams in the division,” he said.

It’s a brilliant win for the team and on a personal note to come back here in a T20 and do well was great.

                                      

And Croft felt everything, including the sunny weather, combined to make the perfect game on his hometown ground staging its first county T20 game.

“We produced a great brand of cricket, it was nice to see so many familiar faces around, and it was a perfect day for us and the club,” he said.

Croft also hailed the performance of the bowling unit.

“I thought we restricted Notts very well, especially in those middle overs,” he said.

“And thanks to some great contributions (with the bat) it ended up being quite easy.

“They had produced a strong finish (to their innings) but at halfway we were pretty confident (about getting 180). Dane made it look very easy and I felt we had it under control most of the way.

“It was the best way for us to respond after (defeat on) Friday. The games come thick and fast so we didn’t have much time to dwell on it, and it was great to just get straight back out there.

“Our aim is to qualify for the quarter-finals as soon as we can and push to try and get a home quarter-final. We’ve got a great record at home.

“We’ve got four players missing on England duty plus a couple out injured, so it was a great response by the lads who have come in to replace them and helped us get a win. It’s a great sign for the club that we can do that."

Ken Grime
Photos: George Franks

 
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