Lancashire Lightning are out to secure a home quarter-final in the Friends Life t20 after moving top of the North Division with a 25-run win over Durham Dynamos at Emirates Old Trafford.
Karl Brown’s T20 career-best 62 off 42 balls and an unbeaten 40 from 30 deliveries by Simon Katich took Lancashire to 170-5, their highest score in the competition this season.
Kabir Ali then claimed 3-30 and Arron Lilley impressed with 1-21 from his four overs as Durham could only reply with 145-5 even with 62 from 51 balls by Scott Borthwick.
The two points mean Lancashire are now a point clear of second-placed Nottinghamshire Outlaws but have played two games more. They are, however, three clear of Derbyshire Falcons who have only one game in hand on Lightning.
And Brown insists Lancashire are keen to win their remaining three group games – against Leicestershire Foxes, Yorkshire Vikings and Nottinghamshire Outlaws – next week in a bid to claim top spot in the group.
"We're on a good run at the moment,” said Brown, who opened the batting following an injury to Tom Smith. “Today was a big game and to beat a side like Durham is always good. Winning three in a row at home has put us in a great position in the group.
"Points on the board are going to mean everything so if we can get our wins in before other teams have played it puts pressure on them.
“Being top is where we want to be but we've got three games left and we're going to have to play good cricket to qualify.
"I think three wins guarantees qualification but I think two might be enough as well. I think we'll have to wait and see how other games go. Hopefully we'll win all three and get a home quarter-final.
"We've got a good record here so it doesn't matter who we play as we'd back ourselves to beat anybody.”
Brown and Moore gave Lancashire a blistering start with an 85-run first-wicket stand – a record against Durham beating the 81 by Mal Loye and Sanath Jayasuriya in 2007.
Brown was dropped on 37 by Ryan Pringle, and made Durham pay with a string of blistering boundaries as he raced to 50 off just 36 balls.
He was eventually out in the 10th over when caught by Ben Stokes off the bowling of Gareth Breese.
Stephen Moore fell for 18 in the 11th over and when captain Steven Croft went for 11 in the 15th, Lancashire were in danger of letting a good start slip.
But Katich and Ashwell Prince put on a quick-fire 39 before the South African went for 17, and Gareth Cross then hit 14 off seven balls before he was out off the final delivery of the innings.
Simon Kerrigan pulled off an amazing one-handed catch in the third over of Durham’s reply to account for Mark Stoneman, then Kabir struck to get rid of dangerman Phil Mustard for 24 in the sixth over.
Kerrigan missed a sharp caught and bowled chance with Borthwick on 18, but Lancashire were soon back in the wickets with Lilley having Will Smith caught by Croft for 10 to leave Durham 64-3 and falling behind the run rate.
When Stokes fell in the 15th over for nine, caught by Croft off the bowling of Kerrigan, Lancashire were well on top.
And any hopes Durham had of staging a late fightback ended when Borthwick was caught by Brown off the bowling of Ali in the penultimate over.
Picture (c) Simon Pendrigh