Lancashire Lightning put themselves in pole position for a place in the semi-finals of the Clydesdale Bank 40 with a thrilling four-wicket win over Gloucestershire Gladiators at Old Trafford.
Chasing the visitors’ 184-7, Paul Horton and Karl Brown shared an 82-run partnership as Lightning knocked off the winning runs with five balls to spare.
They now sit top of Group A, level on points with Middlesex Panthers but with two games in hand with the Netherlands next up at Old Trafford on August 12. Lancashire are top because they have 6 wins while the Panthers have 5 wins. Two more wins will now clinch top spot in Group A.
After Stephen Moore (37) and Ashwell Prince had given Lancashire’s chase a solid start as they put on 43 for the first wicket, man-of-the-match Brown made an impressive 60 on what was a slow and turning wicket, while Horton shrugged off the pain of a dislocated finger to make 46.
Horton had to have his finger popped back in by physio Sam Byrne while still on the field after stopping a full-blooded drive during Gloucestershire’s innings.
“It hurt, although I should have caught it if I’m honest,” said Horton. “The knuckle was out of its socket, luckily Sam managed to put it straight back in.
“You run on adrenaline after that. I could feel it at times when I was batting, but it is fine.
“It was a big win for us on what was a tough wicket. They found it tough, we found it tough. But we have played on wickets like this before at Old Trafford. It is difficult to bat on. The ball doesn’t come on to the bat and it spins. The field is big so you have to run hard and try not to get bogged down with the spin.
“So it was a good chase and it was a good win for us. We have played some good cricket in this competition. We had one slip up against the Netherlands in a game we lost but should have won. We were comprehensively beaten by Middlesex away, but apart from that we have played some really good cricket.
“We want to top the group and secure a big home semi-final, and reaching a Lord’s final would be lovely.”
Horton and Brown couldn’t finish the job as they both fell in successive overs with 15 still needed from 13 balls. But a quickfire 10 from Ajmal Shahzad took them to the verge and Gareth Cross hit the winning runs.
Ealier, it looked as though former Lancashire second team player Ian Cockbain was going to be the hero for Gloucestershire as he made 58 off 49 balls.
His knock included three successive sixes off Stephen Parry in the final over, before he was stumped off the final ball of the Gladiators’ innings.
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd
Photo of Paul Horton & Karl Brown (c) Simon Pendrigh