Tom Smith has hailed his Twenty20 Cup career best 57 not out in tonight's North Division win over the Durham Dynamos at Old Trafford as the best innings he has played in any form of one-day cricket.
The left-handed opener carried his bat, facing 56 balls and hitting four fours and one six, to help his side pursue 124 for a sixth successive win.
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Smith’s previous 20-over best of 32 came on Tuesday night, while he also creamed 87 not out off 88 balls in a recent Friends Provident Trophy win over Glamorgan at the SWALEC Stadium.
He said: “I think this one was a little better than the one at Glamorgan. We were already through, it was nice to get some runs, but to go six from six guarantees us, near enough, with a quarter-final spot.
“We have won six from six now in Twenty20, and we have carried on from earlier in the season. I have found that I have adapted to the one-day format a lot easier than the Championship. But we have got a lot of cricket coming up with the red ball, and I look forward to getting some runs.”
Durham, who won the toss and elected to bat, made a solid start to their innings by reaching 61-1 in the eleventh over thanks to a second-wicket partnership of 52 between Phil Mustard (28) and Gordon Muchall.
But Lancashire’s trio of spinners, led by Stephen Parry, claimed four of the next five wickets to fall, reducing them to 106 for six in the 18th over. It was a run of five wickets falling for 45 runs. They finished on 123-6.
Parry was the pick of the Lightning’s bowlers, as the 23 year-old, dubbed as a young Daniel Vettori by coach Peter Moores earlier this week, finished with 2-21 from four overs. Fellow left-arm spinner Gary Keedy returned 1-22 from four and leg-spinner Francois du Plessis 1-16 from three.
Mustard and Muchall looked comfortable at the crease, but never managed to break free with big runs. Mustard fell to du Plessis in the eleventh over when he top edged a pull to a running Smith at deep backward square leg.
It was the first of four wickets to fall for 18 runs in five overs. Parry trapped Ian Blackwell lbw and bowled Dale Benkenstein, then Keedy managed to force Dynamos captain Will Smith to hole out to namesake Tom at deep mid-wicket.
Muchall was the main man charged with rebuilding the innings from 79-5. He reached his 50 off 50 balls in the final over of the innings, while Ben Harmison was 14 not out.
Lancashire, who open the bowling with a spin in the form of du Plessis, were given a taste of their own medicine when they lost Paul Horton off the off-spin of Gareth Breese with the seventh ball of the innings.
Smith and Steven Croft (20) shared a brisk 37 for the second wicket, but the win was effectively sealed with a third-wicket alliance of 48 in eight overs between Smith and du Plessis. The in-form South African hit two fours and a six in his 32-ball 36.
Lancashire had needed 32 off the last five with seven wickets in hand, and at this stage, statistically, it looked a harder chase than it actually was. Ashwell Prince was the fourth man out in the 18th over. There could have been a few wobbles, but Smith and Chilton saw it home with five balls and six wickets to spare.
“Whenever you are chasing a low total, if one of your top three or four stays then you will win the game,” said Smith. “After the first six overs we had 40 or 50 on the board. I thought ‘right, we need a run a ball to win the game’.
Lancashire, who are the only unbeaten team in the country in this form of the game, should qualify with the 12 points they have now. One more win when the North Division resumes later this month will secure their passage to the last eight.
The Red Rose, who sit second in the LV County Championship Division One, welcome Somerset to Old Trafford in four-day cricket on Saturday.
Photos: Simon Pendrigh
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