Lancashire's hopes of silverware in the Pro40 League Division Two were dented today with a thumping 76-run defeat against Leicestershire Foxes at a sparse Grace Road.
In search of their third win on the trot, the Lightning fell to 146 all out in their pursuit of 223, losing their first match of the competition with 76 balls to spare. Lancashire did well to restrict the hosts to 222-6 after James Benning and Tom New (50) shared 118 inside 20 overs for the first wicket.
After the hosts had won the toss and elected to bat, Benning crunched ten fours and two sixes in a lusty 89 to be the main danger on a wicket that was taking turn.
But the county’s three spinners put the handbrake on, with left-armer Gary Keedy leading the way with the wickets of New and Jacques du Toit on his way to impressive figures of 2-37 from eight overs.
Francois du Plessis and Stephen Parry also took a wicket each in their eight over spells, conceding 45 and 34 runs respectively. But Lancashire were undone by spin too, as seven of their wickets fell to Claude Henderson, Jigar Naik and captain Boeta Dippenaar, who sent down some part-time off-spin.
Left-armers Henderson and Naik both pinched three wickets as they went for 30 and 23, but the former was definitely the pick of the bowling by breaking the back of Lancashire’s chase before the latter happily mopped up the tail.
Lancashire were in the game even after they fell 70-4 – Paul Horton had already fallen for 34, which proved to be the top score – because du Plessis and stand-in captain Mark Chilton were going well in their fifth wicket partnership.
But du Plessis (30) needlessly thrashed Henderson down Nathan Buck’s throat at long-off to leave the Red Rose at 110-5 before Chilton (22) was unlucky to be run out backing up at the non-striker’s end as Naik bowled to Gareth Cross. Cross hit two straight sixes off left-armer Naik in a late unbeaten 25.
“The spinners slowed things up, and we would have settled for 220. But it just never happened for us,” said Keedy. “We had some little judgements that ended up being misjudgements, and they cost us big time. Chilly’s run out was the icing on the cake. Even having lost some early wickets, the position we were in at halfway was one where we backed ourselves to knock off the runs.”
The Lightning, who have four matches left in this competition, face a crucial match against table-toppers Middlesex under lights at Lord’s on Wednesday.
Photo: Simpn Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd