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MATCH REPORT: Lightning produce emphatic bowling performance to beat Foxes

MATCH REPORT: Lightning produce emphatic bowling performance to beat Foxes

Lancashire Lightning continued their strong start to the North Group by making it five wins from six matches, overcoming Leicestershire Foxes by 25 runs in their Vitality Blast clash at the Uptonsteel County Ground.

The group leaders failed to bat out their full 20 overs, dismissed for 162 in 18.5 by a Foxes bowling attack led by seamer Scott Currie’s four for 25 and on-loan left-arm spinner Lewis Goldsworthy’s two for 25.

It was a total that looked potentially a little below par after Lightning’s Luke Wells (35 off 18 balls), Matty Hurst (32 from 24) and veteran Steven Croft (29 from 20) had all been dismissed when threatening to inflict major damage but in the face of some disciplined Lancashire bowling the Foxes were always behind the required rate.

Rishi Patel hit 43 from 31 balls including two sixes, and skipper Peter Handscomb 33 from 26, but only two other batters made it into double figures as Wells (two for 24 from four overs), George Balderson (two for 15 from two on his Blast debut) and Luke Wood (one for 20 from four) returned some mean bowling figures as the Foxes were restricted to 137 for nine.

Asked to bat first, Lightning had built their innings on the foundation of 65 runs in the powerplay, a decent return even at the cost of three wickets. Josh Hull was involved in all three, holding a good, low catch at short fine leg as Josh Bohannon fell to Wiaan Mulder in the opening over before knocking out Keaton Jennings’s off-stump and Tom Bruce’s middle in two superb overs of his own.

Wells and Hurst combined to take 23 off Ben Mike’s second over. The pair added 57 in 32 deliveries but lost both in close succession as Wells holed out to long-off for 35 of 18 balls and Currie bowled Hurst for 32 off 24.

Croft brought Hull back to earth with 19 off an over that cost 24 in total, including a six crashed over cover from a free hit, but another promising Lightning partnership was broken when Balderson (22 from 18), having cleared the long-on boundary off Goldsworthy, attempted a repeat and was caught by Currie, who picked up his second wicket as Croft was leg before.

Lancashire needed a big finish but suffered the opposite, failing to bat out their full allocation as their last three wickets fell for 10 runs in 11 deliveries.

After Leicestershire’s batting powerplay, though, Lightning were squarely back in the game, pace bowlers Mahmood and Wood combining to restrict the home side to 31 runs, with Harry Swindells, making his first appearance since his heroic match-winning hundred in last summer’s Metro Bank One-Day Cup final, run out for a somewhat tortured four from 11 balls.

Patel raised the scoring rate with a couple of big sixes against Wells and Blatherwick but his departure via an uppercut to backward point left the Foxes 66 for two at halfway, needing 97 and 13 off the pace according to the Duckworth Lewis Stern calculation.

As scoreboard pressure built, Handscomb - dropped on 26 - and then Louis Kimber fell trying to clear the boundary off Balderson, Mulder falling in similar fashion off Wood.

Ben Cox was bowled with a swing and a miss off Green, Rehan Ahmed likewise off the spin of Wells, who found a way past Mike’s attempted sweep two balls later. A requirement of 59 from the last five overs had turned into 43 off 12 deliveries when Goldworthy top-edged Saqib Mahmood to be ninth out and an impossible 32 off the last over.

Lancashire’s George Balderson, who took two for 15 and scored 22 from 18 balls on his Blast debut, said:

“I made my first-class debut quite a while ago now but I’ve been keen to get a chance in white ball cricket and I’ve been working on that part of my game for the last few weeks having put in a lot of work over the winter too.

“It was great to be out there and be part of a win.

“We felt we were a bit short at the halfway stage and that it was a gettable target but we knew with our bowling attack we also had a chance to defend it. And to be able to do that, to win a game where we felt we didn’t post a big score, is massive for confidence.

“Luke and Saqib were outstanding in the powerplay but they are two of the best around so we shouldn’t be surprised at that. That made it easier for those of us bowling in the middle innings because their batters had to take more risks.”



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