Lancashire were fired to a stunning nine-wicket Twenty20 Cup win, their eighth in ten North Division matches, against Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge today by a club record partnership of 162 between Steven Croft and VVS Laxman.
The pair, who finished 83 not out off 47 balls and 78 not out off 53 respectively, shared their second wicket partnership in 16 overs as they completed their pursuit of 174 for victory with 12 balls to spare. Lancashire Lightning will now play Somerset Sabres in the quarter-finals at Old Trafford in the week beginning July 27.
Notts, who had won the toss and elected to bat first, posted a testing 173-7 thanks in the main to Australian David Hussey’s entertaining innings of 55 off 32 balls. Sajid Mahmood and Steven Mullaney, playing his maiden first game of the season, returned 2-26 from four overs and 1-21 from three.
Lancashire’s side was much changed after ensuring qualification and their place at the top of the North Division on Thursday. Mal Loye, Kyle Hogg and Mullaney all came in for Andrew Flintoff, Glen Chapple and Francois du Plessis.
Croft also picked up two wickets, but went for 35 runs from his four overs. Spinners Stephen Parry and Gary Keedy claimed a wicket each. Samit Patel hit 37 off 28 balls and Kevin O’Brien 26 off 20 for the hosts.
“The most important thing was the manner in which we won the game,” said 34 year-old Laxman, who, along with Croft, recorded a career best in this format of the game. “It was not an easy wicket to bat on, but the way Crofty played was amazing.
“We have won eight out of ten. Twenty20 is all about momentum, and I believe we have that momentum now. That really will help us going into the quarter-final. It was 20 or 30 more than we expected them to get, we were looking at about 150. The wicket was not ideal for stroke play.
“But both of us continued playing our natural game. We were not really thinking about the end goal to chase 170. We were just playing on the merit of the game. The way Crofty played, and especially the way he started, was crucial.
“Initially I wasn’t timing the ball well, it wasn’t coming off the bat well. Crofty took the pressure off me, he played some big shots. It always helps when you have someone who is going hard at the opposition. He helped me settle down a bit to play my natural game.”
Paul Horton failed in his early attempt to flick Darren Pattinson over fine leg, leaving his side at 13-1 early in their reply. But Croft and Laxman cut loose, flaying anything and everything to and over the boundary ropes.
Croft led the way, and reached his 50 off just 31 balls. He hit nine fours and three sixes in all. And his Indian partner set about his own uncharacteristic assault. He reached his second consecutive half-century off 37 balls, and whacked a total of eight fours and two sixes. Laxman has now recorded two career bests in the space of two matches following on from his 63 against Derbyshire on Thursday.
He continued: “They have used my strengths and made me open, which was a good move. The last two games have showed that I can play my natural game and still get runs for the team in a quick manner.”
On the Somerset draw, he said: “I have not played against Somerset. I know Justin Langer is the captain, and Trescothick is a brilliant player. The quarter-final is a big game, and the confidence we have got will help us do well.”
Lancashire will remain in the Midlands ahead of Tuesday’s County Championship match at Trent Bridge.
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd