Mahmood hails Lightning pair
Mahmood hails Lightning pair

Sajid Mahmood has hailed opening pair Paul Horton and Tom Smith, saying their stand of 75 off 40 balls against Derbyshire on Tuesday was proof that they are gelling well as a partnership.

Horton (41) and Smith (32) both hit career bests to help the Lightning to a fifth straight Twenty20 Cup North Division win.

"The boys played fantastically. I think Tommy and Paul got us off to a brilliant start," said Mahmood,  "It was a really good foundation. The boys carried that through to get a good total."

Horton and Smith amassed their highest opening partnership of the season in any form of cricket on Tuesday, and Mahmood continued: "They have played like that all season, but it has not really come off as well as that up to the other night.

"They are both really confident, they have both had a while at the top of the order, and they seem to enjoy it. They are doing really well for us."

Mahmood says that the Red Rose dressing room is currently on a major high, with everybody enjoying each other's success. His praise of the two openers certainly suggests exactly that.

Tuesday's victory over the Phantoms was also a special night for the 27 year-old, who picked up his best career bowling analysis in this format of the game when returning 4-29 from four overs.

He has had to get used to the new tactic of switching bowlers around so as not to give the opposing batsmen the opportunity to get set against one particular bowler.

Saj explained: "We spoke about it before the tournament started. I am enjoying mixing the pace up and stuff. You can't let the batsmen settle in Twenty20 cricket, they will just sit there and line you up.

"I think it is good for a bowler because you have got to nail your varieties, your slower balls, your yorkers, your bumpers. If you don't do that, you are going to get put away. It is a good way of looking at it as a bowler. You have got something to work on in Twenty20 cricket. If you get your varieties sorted, that will move into the one-day game, the 50-over stuff."

Lancashire coach Peter Moores said: "I think Saj has bowled well in one-day cricket full stop. He's in really good rhythm at the moment, and he is getting better. Going back to the Championship game at Worcester, apart from his first spell when he tried to bowl quick, he settled into great areas.

"He got his reward then, and we have since seen him get his reward in one-day cricket. He is learning and developing as a player."

Before the competition started, Moores set out an aim of six wins to secure qualification for the quarter-finals. Lancashire will reach that target with a win against the Durham Dynamos at Old Trafford tomorrow (Thursday, 5.30pm).
Graham Hardcastle
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd

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