Lancashire Lightning were stunned by a batting blitz from debutant Abdul Razzaq as they lost their first Friends Life t20 match against Leics Foxes at Old Trafford on Wednesday
Stand-in captain Steven Croft admitted he thought the game was done and dusted when Leicester had slumped to 99-6 in pursuit of a Duckworth Lewis revised target of 165.
But Razzaq hit five sixes and three fours in a 30-ball innings of 62 with the help of tail-end partner Wayne White, who also cleared the ropes a couple of times in an incredible finish.
The game changer was the 16th over when Razzaq was the main protagonist in taking 25 runs off Croft’s off-spin, including successive sixes over long-on.
“We thought we had it in the bag,” admitted Croft, whose side lost by four wickets with a ball to spare. “Then Razzaq started to clear the ropes.
“It probably started to slip away at the start of my over when he hit me for six. And, as soon as he started to clear the ropes, we knew we were in a scrap.
“We probably could have made some different bowling changes, but sometimes you have to give credit to a quality knock from Abdul. We thought it was a defendable target, and we probably should have defended it.”
Two rain delays of varying lengths at either end of the home innings had reduced the fixture to a 19 overs per side contest.
And Lancashire had posted 162-5 thanks to an opening partnership of 88 between Tom Smith and Stephen Moore, who hit 45 off 27 balls and 48 off 39 respectively.
The pair had started slowly as the ball seamed early on, but found their feet on a slow wicket between overs five and ten when they took the score from 29-0 to 89-1.
Smith pulled Matthew Hoggard, who had invited the hosts to bat, for six before whacking Josh Cobb’s part-time spin for six over long-off. Moore also square-cut the Leicester skipper for six.
Claude Henderson played a part in dragging things back by getting Moore stumped by Paul Nixon and Croft caught and bowled in the 13th over on the way to figures of 2-26 from four.
Lancashire also lost Paul Horton and Gareth Cross but a four and six off the last two balls of the innings from Jordan Clark off Razzaq’s fast medium pace boosted the total.
Leicester’s innings then got off to the worst possible start from their point of view when Cobb found a juggling Clark at mid-on off the bowling of Smith with the very first ball.
But Razzaq’s fellow all-rounder, the Australian Andrew McDonald, laid a good platform as he made 57 off 40 balls, including six fours. He hit five fours in a six-ball spell, with Smith and Simon Kerrigan suffering.
And, following Will Jefferson’s departure to Kyle Hogg, he and James Taylor added a steadying 33 for the third wicket.
Even so, the run-rate was slipping, and the wickets as well shortly afterwards.
They had taken the score to 60-2 after seven overs, but lost four wickets for 38 runs soon afterwards to slip from 61-2 to 99-6.
Taylor was trapped lbw by Kerrigan, Paul Nixon fell stumped Cross bowled Gary Keedy, McDonald caught at long-off by Horton off Keedy and Jacques Du Toit caught Clark at long-off bowled Kerrigan.
At that stage, a third win from four looked assured with Leics requiring 66 from 30 balls.
But, unfortunately, Razzaq had other ideas just 24 hours after arriving at the club.
“It was a pretty unbelievable finish,” added coach Peter Moores. “It was a very hard pitch to strike the ball on, but then he (Razzaq) played an unbelievable innings.”
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
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