Lancashire Lightning are out of this season's Friends Life t20 competition despite impressively battling to secure a thrilling tie in today's final North Division match against Durham at the Riverside.
Even though the Lightning fought hard with the ball and in the field, they have unfortunately failed to qualify for the last eight of this tournament for the first time since 2006.
Glen Chapple returned metronomic figures of 1-10 from four overs, the second time the veteran skipper has conceded 10 runs in a spell this campaign, as Durham started their pursuit of 134 cautiously.
They reached 64-1 in the eleventh over, but lost their way when faced with the Lightning spin duo of Gary Keedy and Stephen Parry, who took two wickets each to reduce the score to 105-5 in the 17th over.
The target was 27 off three overs, which Dale Benkenstein and Gareth Breese reduced to six of the last. But credit should go to Ajmal Shahzad, who bowled a superb last over to help account for two wickets.
With the field up inside the circle trying to save the singles, Paul Horton caught Benkenstein at short cover before running out Breese at the non-striker’s end with a direct hit from the same position with the last ball of the match.
“It was disappointing,” said Shahzad, referring to the Lightning missing out on qualification. “I know it was a long shot with other results having to go our way if we won, but I was hoping we’d qualify and kick on.
“It was a tough wicket to bat on there. We lost wickets in clumps and struggled to get any momentum. But we bowled well.”
Lancashire will have been frustrated at letting such a position of strength with the bat slip. They had been 70-1 in the ninth over after Tom Smith, who top-scored with 29 off 32 balls, and Steven Croft (21) had shared 49 in five and a half overs for the second wicket.
Gareth Breese, Scott Borthwick and Chris Rushworth all took two wickets for the Dynamos and conceded less than 20 runs apiece as the Lightning, who finished with 133-8, were undone by 20-ball spell in which they lost four wickets and added only 13 runs to slip to 83-5 in the 13th over.
Smith was trapped lbw trying to sweep leg-spinner Borthwick in the tenth before Croft holed out to long-on off Breese’s off-spin and Karl Brown inexplicably ran himself out in the space of five balls in the eleventh.
And when Horton was caught behind trying to cut Breese, the Lightning were forced into a rebuilding job.
Yasir Arafat was caught at long-off to hand Borthwick his second wicket shortly afterwards before Gareth Cross lofted Johann Myburgh for six over mid-wicket in the 17th over. Shahzad was bowled as he tried to scoop Rushworth past short fine-leg before Cross found deep cover off Ben Stokes with the last ball of the innings to fall for a useful 26 off 25 balls.
After Chapple trapped Herschelle Gibbs lbw with the first ball of his second over - his first had been a maiden - Stokes found Croft at long-on off Parry's bowling the ball after hitting a huge six over mid-wicket. Phil Mustard was caught and bowled by Keedy for 33, leaving the score at 79-3 in the 14th, before he had Myburgh caught behind. Parry added his second wicket when Gordon Muchall was stumped in the 17th over, the fifth wicket to fall.
Then, on the back of the excellent fielding and bowling display, came the tensest of finishes.
Coach Peter Moores added: “This match sort of sums it up a bit for us really. We’re disappointed, but I think we played pretty well. After a good start with the bat, we struggled. But I thought we bowled really well all the way through.
“I think we actually played pretty good cricket all the way through the competition.
“The first game against Derbyshire was tough when we lost on Duckworth Lewis because I thought we had a really good chance of winning that. It was similar at Notts too. Winning either of those would have got us through.
“We’ll be one of the few sides not to go through who have a plus run-rate, which says something about how the lads have played. We haven’t played badly at all, and our only poor performance was Derby at home.”
Lancashire are back in County Championship action on Wednesday when they travel to Guildford to face Surrey.
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd