Clark and Buttler blast Lancs to victory
Lancashire won a rain-shortened Nat West T20 Blast encounter in entertaining fashion on Friday night, with a blast of their own from Jordan Clark and Jos Buttler.
Chasing a victory target of 132 in 14 overs that was later shortened to 74 runs off 7 overs, Clark and Buttler hit 35 runs off just 11 balls to clinch a nine-wicket victory in thrilling fashion with 5 balls to spare.
Leicestershire had made 131-3 thanks to a half century from Mark Cosgrove, although the left-handed batsman survived three dropped catches of varying difficulty in damp, greasy conditions.
Steven Croft won the toss and elected to field at 6.30pm but rain arrived to halt proceedings just as the players made their way out to start.
Play eventually got underway at 7.40pm with the game reduced to 14 overs per side.
Lancashire made one change to the side that played last Saturday against Notts Outlaws with Luke Procter coming in for just his second T20 game in four years replacing the injured Martin Guptill.
Faced with a shortened game Mark Pettini and Mark Cosgrove wasted no time in getting the Foxes off to a flying start, the pair hitting out effectively and taking 19 off the third over from Neil Wagner in reaching the end of the 4 powerplay overs on 39-0.
Cosgrove survived a difficult chance in the deep when on 26 in the 6th over off Arron Lilley but a couple of tight overs from Lilley and George Edwards halted the quick scoring with just 10 runs conceded.
It was Lilley who made the breakthrough towards the end of the seventh over with the score on 63, although Pettini, who had made 23 off 14 balls, found a slightly bizarre way to get out when his attempted scoop shot hit his own helmet and rebounded to Buttler who took a diving catch just in front of the wicket.
Umar Akmal hit the first six of the night off Lilley in the 9th over while Cosgrove was then dropped in the deep on 44 in 10th over with the score on 83-1, although it should be added that fielding was not straightforward in the damp conditions.
Akmal was bowled by Croft for 17 in the 11th over to leave Leicestershire on 93-2 while Kevin O’Brien’s brief stay, hitting 12 off 9 balls, was ended when Lilley held on to a catch at long-on off Clark in the 13th over.
Cosgrove, who had reached his half century off 40 balls from the last ball of the 11th over, thumped Clark’s final delivery for a straight six in making an unbeaten 66, but the bowler could still enjoy returning the excellent figures of 1-15 from his 3 overs.
Leicestershire finished on 131-3 from their 14 overs, and the Lancashire opening pair of Alviro Petersen and Clark had made 11-0 from 8 balls when rain halted play once again.
After a 30 minute delay Lancashire were handed a revised target of 74 from 7 overs and Clark launched the first ball of the restart from Ben Raine for six over extra cover.
Neil Dexter then produced a tight over, conceding just six runs, to swing the game back towards the visitors but Petersen and Clark responded by taking 13 off the next over from Cameron Delport to take Lancashire to 40-0 after 4 overs.
Petersen cut Kevin O’Brien to Tom Wells at point for 23 two balls later to leave Lancashire needing 32 to win from 16 balls but any Foxes’ joy was short-lived.
Clark was joined by Buttler and the pair demolished the Leicestershire attack as Lancashire stormed home in emphatic style.
Buttler edged his first ball to the third man boundary before launching O’Brien high over cover for four more from his second ball.
That put Lancashire on 51-1 and ahead of the D/L rate after 5 overs by 2 runs.
The sixth over proved decisive as Clark and Buttler hit out powerfully to take 20 runs from Clint McKay, Buttler hitting the Foxes’ pace bowler for six into the pavilion while Clark then pulled McKay for a huge six to mid-wicket to leave just 3 required from the last over.
Clark ended it in style with his third six of the night over square leg off the first ball of the final over, finishing on 31 not out from just 12 balls while Buttler was unbeaten on 20 from 9 balls, to clinch a thrilling 9-wicket win with 5 balls to spare.
Lancashire finished on 77-1 to record their second T20 win of the season and Man of the Match Jordan Clark was delighted with the outcome.
“It was a great day, a great win,” he said.
“It was a big game for us after losing three in this competition.
“Personally doing quite well, I’m over the moon about it.
Clark had enjoyed a good night with the ball with 1-15 from his three overs, even though Mark Cosgrove had hit his last ball for six at the end of the innings.
“There was a bit of damp around so the ball was going to skid on a bit, so the plan was to hit the deck hard and get as much out of it as I could,” he said.
“Cosgrove missed a few of those early on which gave me a bit of confidence, and I finished off quite well which was good.
“I struggled a bit holding the ball because of how wet it was, but I should have got that last one in the blockhole. I’m still happy with how it went though, except for that last ball!”
It was thought that Clark had been sent in to ‘pinch-hit’ in the shortened game, but he revealed opening had been on the cards all along.
“I’ve opened the batting a lot for the second team this season,” he explained. “So when I got the opportunity to open today I was delighted. I just thought it was a chance to shine, and thankfully I did quite well.
“When we restarted (after the rain delay) we just had to go for it from ball one.
“It was a tough target to chase but I had lots of fun out there.
“Getting a win like that was important and it takes some momentum into the next game.”
Photo: Jordan Clark and Jos Buttler celebrate after hitting the winning runs (Simon Pendrigh)