Lancashire Lightning claimed a crushing Pro40 League win over Northants Steelbacks at Wantage Road on Tuesday thanks to a polished bowling effort in helpful conditions.
Ravaged by rain, and reduced to a 21 overs per side contest, Kyle Hogg led the way with three wickets to help restrict the hosts to 102-7. Hogg finished with 3-18 from five overs, while left-arm spinner Stephen Parry returned 2-12 from four.
The intricacies of the Duckworth/Lewis method meant that Lancashire had to chase just 100 to win, and their target was reduced further to 88 off 18 overs with another brief rain shower.
Tom Smith, who hit 43 off 28 balls, and VVS Laxman shared 72 for the opening partnership to help secure the eight-wicket win with 37 balls remaining.
“Chasing 100 in 20 overs, you are always going to take that at the start of the game,” said man of the match Smith. “We always knew what we had to get, and we were in a very good position.”
The Lightning were always in control from the moment Sajid Mahmood trapped Stephen Peters lbw with the sixth ball of the match.
Hogg claimed his first wicket in the second over, that of Rikki Wessels well caught by Steven Croft running in from deep square-leg, and the Steelbacks were firmly on the back foot at 3-2.
The contest had already been reduced to 35 overs per side after a delayed start, and the players were then forced off the field for just short of two hours with the hosts at 11-2 one ball into the fifth over.
When they returned, Mahmood did not after suffering a side strain. Francois du Plessis bowled the remaining five balls of the over.
Hogg quickly reduced the hosts to 19-4 with two wickets in the next, those of Niall O’Brien caught at deep mid-wicket by sub-fielder Steven Mullaney and Alex Wakely caught at gully by Paul Horton.
Smith had Nicky Boje caught behind by Gareth Cross three overs later before Andrew Hall was brilliantly stumped by Cross off Parry in the 14th. When Parry bowled Rob White for 23 in the 18th over, Northants were in total disarray at 75-7.
Johan van der Wath boosted his side with an unbeaten 35 off 28 balls, helping to take 26 runs off the last two overs.
Smith continued: “The ball got very wet, and the spinners did a great job. Pazza (Stephen Parry) and Keeds bowled exceptionally well. They couldn’t really have a crack until late on, and van der Wath hit a few good shots.”
Smith and Laxman gave the visitors a flying start to their chase, and the former even pulled off a fabulous, yet cheeky, flicked four over fine-leg off the bowling of Lee Daggett.
Smith raced to 43, hitting six fours and one six, before he was bowled by Hall in the ninth over. Paul Horton also fell to Monty Panesar, but Laxman finished 38 not out off 37 balls.
Smith added: “Chasing a small target, if you can get off to a good start, then it’s always great. I am really enjoying it (opening the batting). I was a little bit disappointed not to go on and finish it with VVS, but I would have taken 43 at the start.”
Lancashire face Hampshire at the Rose Bowl in the LV County Championship on Thursday.
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd