Lancashire's hopes of a home quarter final in the Friends Provident t20 have receded after Thursday's defeat to Northants Steelbacks.
The Lightning failed to chase down the hosts 170-4, with the Steelbacks scoring 107 in the last ten overs of their innings as they took advantage of small boundaries either side of the wicket.
It took an entertaining unbroken seventh wicket partnership of 50 in 22 balls between Gareth Cross and Sajid Mahmood to get the Red Rose within eleven runs of the Northants total, with wicketkeeper Cross finishing on 41 not out off 22 balls and Mahmood 27 not out off ten.
Lancashire captain Mark Chilton said: “We did a lot of good stuff, but we just did a bit too much bad stuff. We started off quite well, but they got 110 or so off the last ten overs of their innings.
“We could have tightened up our bowling and fielding, and their total was 20 more than we would have liked.”
Opener Rob White had scored a season’s best 80 off 58 balls to anchor his side’s effort, and he shared 77 for the first wicket with Chaminda Vaas (29) inside 12 overs.
Lancashire then lost Stephen Moore in the second over of their reply, and later fell to 85-5 in the 14th over.
“We couldn’t get ahead of the rate,” continued Chilton. “I thought Crossy played magnificently to get us anywhere near. We got stuck in the middle, but they played a really good game.”
Stephen Parry claimed 2-29, while Tom Smith and Mahmood both took a wicket after Chilton had elected to bowl first on a slow track with small boundaries.
Despite a lack of wickets in the first ten overs, Lancs would have been reasonably happy to restrict the hosts to 63 runs. Nathan McCullum kept things tight, and finished with 0-15 from three overs.
Northants had reached 109-2 after 15, with Parry getting Vaas and David Sales both caught at long on in the 12th and 14th overs.
But the Steelbacks really got going in the 16th over with Daren Powell conceding 19 runs, with White hitting three sixes, while there were also four leg byes in the over.
Mahmood had White well caught by a diving Smith at short extra cover, and the catcher also bowled Alex Wakely for 20 off 16 balls.
But Elton Chigumbura hit 16 not out off nine balls and Andrew Hall eleven not out off five to maintain their side’s momentum.
Moore then hit two boundaries in the first over of the chase to get Lancs off to a good start, but was then caught behind by David Murphy off Jack Brooks to leave the score at 9-1.
Smith hit a four and a six off David Willey in the fifth over, but chipped a full toss to Sales at mid wicket with 39 on the board.
And, when Steven Croft was caught behind off Zimbabwean medium pacer Chigumbura for 24 in the ninth, Lancs were on the ropes at 56-3.
Their game was up in the 14th when off-spinner James Middlebrook removed Chilton and Horton, the latter courtesy of a remarkable one handed effort by Wakely, diving backwards at long on.
Cross and Mahmood then hit three fours and two sixes apiece to at least give the visiting supporters something to cheer.
But, if Warwickshire claim one point from their remaining two North Division fixtures, Lancashire will be on the road for a last eight tie on either Monday 26th or Tuesday 27th July.
Graham Hardcastle at Northampton
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd