Lancashire Lightning win by seven wickets
Jos Buttler smashed Lancashire’s fastest ever NatWest T20 Blast fifty off 20 balls as the Lightning cruised to a 199-target to beat Worcestershire at New Road and re-ignite their quarter-final hopes.
Buttler was at his inventive and powerful best with four sixes and seven fours in 57 off 22 balls to make a mockery of the Rapids 198 all out on a postage stamp playing area.
He shared a 94-run opening partnership with Alviro Petersen in just 5.4 overs, with 98 coming off the six overs of power play - the champions’ best ever.
The England wicketkeeper had to contend with a sore left-hand after being struck whilst trying to stop a delivery from Luis Reece in the hosts’ innings.
But it did not seem to bother him one bit as he scooped with ease and, in the fifth over, hit New Zealand international seamer Matt Henry for three sixes and two fours, including one particularly memorable maximum over backward point off the front foot.
He was later bowled by South African seamer Kyle Abbott, but his effort was enough to secure a fourth North Group win from ten games, with seven wickets in hand and eleven balls to spare. Karl Brown also hit an excellent unbeaten 62 off 40 balls.
Worcester’s innings was give impetus by a stand of 77 in 5.3 overs for the sixth wicket as Ben Cox and Ross Whiteley recovered from 99-5 in the 12th after the visitors had won the toss.
Cox hit Stephen Parry for five fours in the 15th over added to one six before Whiteley hit the first two balls of the next, bowled by George Edwards, for six and four to take the score to 155-5.
Earlier, Lancashire had taken wickets at regular intervals to leave themselves in a healthy position.
Nathan Buck had opener Joe Leach caught behind off a top-edge before Jordan Clark bowled Tom Kohler-Cadmore the ball after being hit for six in the fifth over.
Parry had Joe Clarke caught behind before debutant Reece (2-29 from three) had Brett D’Oliveira caught at deep mid-wicket.
Like Kohler-Cadmore, D’Oliveira had also hit the previous ball for six.
And when Steven Croft bowled Daryl Mitchell with the third ball of his first over, the Rapids were 99-5 and in danger of not making use of fast-scoring conditions.
Unfortunately for Lancashire, Cox and Whiteley, who 44 off 21 balls and 38 off 17, gave the hosts some real impetus.
The Red Rose, however, did manage to keep the score below 200 as Buttler, having earlier taken a nasty blow to the hand, fashioned two run outs with some smart work top start a memorable evening.
The latter was one of three wickets off four balls in the last over of the innings, bowled by George Edwards, who finished with 2-37 from 3.4.
Every member of Lancashire’s six-man attack struck with the ball.
Petersen also started Lancashire’s reply at a good rate, but he was overshadowed by Buttler.
Petersen was later caught at square-leg off Leach for 34 off 20 as the Lightning fell to 115-2 in the in the ninth over. They reach halfway at 120-2, needing 79 more.
England Lions new boy Liam Livingstone then played on, reverse sweeping at Mitchell’s wobblers - 132-3 in the 12th over.
Lancashire, at 147-3 after 14 overs, needed 52 off the last six. By that time, Brown had 32 not out.
He reached 50 off 34 balls with five fours and a six in the 17th over as the visitors cruised along.
They required 21 off the last three overs and three off two.
Worcester’s Test duo Henry and Abbott conceded 109 in seven overs between them. Croft finished unbeaten on 23.