Lancashire slipped to a 23-run Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final defeat against Warwickshire Bears at Old Trafford this afternoon
The Lightning’s batsmen were never really in the hunt as they were bowled out for 227 in their pursuit of 251.
The 2010 champions’ posted a competitive 250-6 after they won the toss underpinned by opener Varun Chopra’s steady 110 off 124 balls, including nine fours and a six.
Paul Horton then excelled with a superb 78 off 63 balls to keep the home side’s slim hopes alive on the back of a 37-run stand for the eighth wicket with skipper Glen Chapple. But left-arm swing bowler Neil Carter removed both inside the final six overs to extinguish any chance of an escape from 90-5 and 147-7 in the 31st over.
Carter finished with fine figures of 4-38 from eight overs, while fellow pace bowler Chris Wright added 3-48 from 7.3. Warwickshire will face Hampshire in the final at Lord’s on September 15.
Horton said: “If I’d got nought and we’d won, I’d be a lot happier. It’s disappointing because we thought we could have chased 250. We didn’t get the start we wanted and never got into the game. We got back into it a little bit, but it was a big chase in the end.
“We were quite happy with 250 because they were 100 without loss. They played quite well up top, so we were quite happy that they only got 250. 270 would probably have been too many, but 250 was within our range. We’ve chased that before here, but it just didn’t go for us today.
“It’s very rare that one of our top four doesn’t come off. You look at the season’s that Moore has had and Croft has had, Browny’s played really well too, it just didn’t happen today. We had a drag on, caught mid-on, these things didn’t really work out for us. If you’re 100-4, it’s a long way back to get 250.”
Having won the toss and elected to bat, Chopra and Will Porterfield, who made 67, shared 126 in 23 overs for the first wicket to put the Bears in a very strong position.
The visitors accelerated after scoring just 33 runs in the first eight overs of powerplay. Both sides will have been reasonably happy with the start, although the Bears pair put their foot on the accelerator as Porterfield played the lead role.
The Irish left-hander swept Chapple for six in the fifth over, which went for 12.
But the fact that only one other over went for 12, 39th of the innings bowled by Ajmal Shahzad, shows just how well Lancashire dragged things back in the second half of the innings.
Porterfield fell when he swept Gary Keedy down Stephen Moore’s throat running in from the deep mid-wicket boundary in the 23rd before Jim Troughton fell in identical fashion to leave the score at 150-2 in the 27th.
This was Chopra’s fourth one-day hundred, but it will not be the most fluent innings of his career. He went nearly eleven overs from the 24th to the 35th without a boundary, but Darren Maddy and Rikki Clarke, in particular, kept the visitors moving with breezy cameos.
Clarke hit two fours and a six in 17 off just nine balls before he was the fourth man out when Moore took an excellent diving catch off Tom Smith’s bowling, leaving the score at 217-4 in the 37th. Maddy had earlier pulled Shahzad down Karl Brown’s throat at deep backward square-leg.
Chopra, meanwhile, reached three figures off 119 balls with nine fours before he fell as the second of two wickets in successive balls for Shahzad in the 39th over. Chris Woakes was caught behind by Gareth Cross trying to improvise before Chopra found Steven Croft at long-on.
Shahzad finished with 3-52 to take his place as the competition’s leading wicket-taker with 21.
The Lightning then made a damaging start to their chase by losing openers Smith and Moore to leave the score at 29-2 in the seventh over, with both men falling to the left-arm swing of Carter.
Smith holed out to Troughton at mid-on and Moore caught behind by sub wicketkeeper Richard Johnson, who was given permission to replace Tim Ambrose by the home dressing room following the latter picking up a thigh injury after the toss.
Croft then hit Wright for successive boundaries in the eleventh over to take the score to 50-3, but dragged on as he tried to heave another through the leg-side immediately afterwards. And when Karl Brown uppercut the same man to Maddy at deep point in the 18th over, Lancashire were in trouble at 77-4.
Ashwell Prince top-edged an ugly swipe to mid-off as Ian Blackwell struck, leaving the score at 90-5 in the 21st. Blackwell then removed Gareth Cross lbw sweeping before Paul Best’s spin accounted for Shahzad caught at backward point on the reverse sweep.
Chapple and Horton then entertained before holing out to mid-on and mid-off respectively off Carter before Stephen Parry fell in similar fashion to Wright with the fourth ball of the final over.
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh