Lancashire Lightning will not be going to Lord's after losing their Friends Provident Trophy semi-final against Hampshire by 64 runs at Old Trafford today.
Hampshire, who were invited to bat first by Glen Chapple, posted 271 thanks to 78 from Jimmy Adams and 76 from Michael Lumb. The pair shared a telling opening partnership of 159.
VVS Laxman top scored for the Lightning with 54 off 77 balls, who were bowled out for 209 with 26 balls to spare. Lancashire’s leg-spinning nemesis Imran Tahir claimed figures of 3-38 from ten overs.
Wicketkeeper Luke Sutton, who had a good day with two catches, no byes conceded and 22 with the bat, said: “I don’t think we can have any complaints. We were outplayed. It is a game we should have won.
“270 was a good score, especially in a semi, but it was gettable. We didn’t bat to our usual standard. We lost wickets at crucial times. We were never up with the rate, and put pressure on ourselves. We were beaten by the better side.”
Adams and Lumb got their side off to a fine start to put the Lightning under major pressure, sharing their opening stand in just than 25 overs. They took each and every bowler apart, even to the extent that the home faithful would have been starting to pen in alternative arrangements for July, 25 even then.
But Lancashire pegged it back superbly. Sajid Mahmood, Chapple and Gary Keedy claimed three wickets each to help take all ten wickets for 112 runs in 24 overs. Hampshire were bowled out for 271.
Lumb flicked Chapple over long leg for six in the ninth over of the innings, Adams picked up Mahmood for a maximum over mid-wicket in the 14th before crunching Francois du Plessis ten rows back over long on.
They brought up the 150 in the 24th over, but it did not get much better for the Hawks with the bat.
Adams was brilliantly caught by du Plessis, one-handed at point off the bowling of Mahmood in the 25th, and Lumb lobbed the same bowler to Chapple at mid-on to leave the score at 168-2 in the 27th.
The flurry of wickets continued when Michael Carberry was trapped lbw by left-arm spinner Keedy, reducing the hosts to 179-3 in the 29th.
Zimbabwean Sean Ervine was bowled by the same bowler in the 35th, who then trapped Liam Dawon lbw two overs later. The wheels were coming off for the men from the Rose Bowl with them tottering at 215-5.
Chris Benham offered a regulation catch to Sutton in the 41st over before a 25 minute rain break came with the visitors on 236-6.
The visitors later lost Nic Pothas, bowled by a Kyle Hogg slower ball, and Dominic Cork, superbly caught behind by a diving Sutton off Chapple in the 47th.
Captain Dimitri Mascarenhas, who was struggling to make use of the third batting powerplay, holed out to a diving Hogg at mid-wicket in the next, and Imran Tahir was the last man to go when he skied Chapple to Keedy at cover.
Adams and Lumb hit 12 fours and three sixes in their opening partnership, but the other nine men only managed four boundaries between them. Nobody else bettered Benham’s 29.
“We have chased down scores like that, and that is why we batted first. We have chased down some big scores comfortably, and it was a very good wicket. At the start of the day if someone had said chase down 270 we would have take it. We just weren’t good enough,” continued Sutton.
Some of the momentum Lancashire had gained from their impressive effort with the ball was lost when Paul Horton, who had inside edged the first ball of the innings from Cork for four, edged Mascarenhas to Lumb at first slip in the second over.
Mal Loye and Laxman then set about their second wicket partnership of 73 with a combination of caution and class. While desperate to keep wickets in hand, the pair were also conscious of an increasing run-rate.
Loye continued his recent good form - and even brought out the famous slog-sweep off the seamers, which is something that we have not seen from the 36 year-old for a while.
Laxman hit Chris Tremlett for two consecutive boundaries in the 15th over, one a gorgeous, guided late cut, the other an ugly heave down to the same third-man boundary. But Loye was trapped lbw for 31 by leg-spinner Tahir with the last ball of his first over. Lancashire were 78-2 in the 16th.
Mark Chilton reached 18 before he holed out, courtesy of a top edged pull off the medium pace of Ervine, to Carberry at deep mid-wicket – and that left the Lightning at 108-3 in the 23rd over.
Meanwhile, Laxman was just ticking along towards his third one-day half-century of his second spell with the county. It was quite obvious that he would have to bat for a long time if the Red Rose were to reach Lord’s.
The 34 year-old brought up his 50 off 69 balls with four fours, but his celebrations were dampened just moments later when his partner, du Plessis, was caught at point, one-handed by Adams off the bowling of Ervine.
It left Lancashire at 117-4, and you really got a feeling that Faf had been given a taste of his own medicine. Earlier in the game, the 24 year-old had caught Adams in exactly the same manner to start Hampshire’s slide with bat in hand.
And man of the match Adams’ sparkling day continued just three overs later when he helped to get rid of Lancashire’s dangerman. Laxman nailed a drive off left-arm spinner Dawson – it looked four from the moment it left the bat – and Adams, diving to his left, plucked it out of the sky.
The look on the Indian’s face told you everything. Lancashire were up against it.
Sutton and Steven Croft then shared a sixth wicket partnership of 47 in ten overs before the former was trapped lbw, playing around a straight one from Mascarenhas, for 22. It left Lancashire needing 101 from ten overs with four wickets in hand.
Croft, having hit Dawson for a crisp straight four, was starting to get into stride. He and Chapple took the batting powerplay at the end of the 41st over, and took 14 off a Tremlett over, including a maximum over long-on for Croft.
But Chapple, trying to do something similar, was stumped off the first ball of Tahir’s ninth over. Lancashire’s hopes were slipping away with them on 189-7 in the 43rd. They were gone just a few balls later when Croft was bowled by Tahir for 33.
Tremlett later bowled Hogg and Mahmood to complete the match with more than four overs to spare.
“Sutton added: “Pressure is a telling thing. We were ticking along ok, but in danger that if we lost some wickets we were going to be in some danger. That is what happened. We put in as big an effort as we could, and we just weren’t good enough today.
“You have 24 hours to celebrate a victory and 24 hours to mourn a loss. It doesn’t feel very good at the moment, and fortunately we have a little break before we are back in Championship cricket. We can get away from cricket and freshen our minds.
“We need to pick up our Championship play a couple of gears. Worcestershire (Friday) might be struggling, but on paper they are a difficult side. They have some good players. It will be a difficult test for us.
“But I do think we need to get away for a couple of days, put this loss to bed and recharge the batteries. We have some great pros in the dressing room, and we will be ready to go.”
Photo: Clint Hughes
(c) Lancashire CCC