Skipper Steven Croft starred in a thumping Clydesdale Bank 40 win over the Unicorns at Colwyn Bay today and then hailed a thoroughly professional performance from his team-mates
Chasing just 180 to win following good work from the spinners and Junaid Khan, who claimed four wickets to bowl the hosts out for 179, Croft top-scored with 59 not out off 51 balls to see the Lightning home by eight wickets with a whopping 72 balls to spare.
The match may have been one-sided for large parts, but the sizeable crowd will have enjoyed themselves in the North Wales sunshine.
They saw the Unicorns, whose captain Keith Parsons won the toss, get off to a flyer thanks to opening pair James Campbell and Michael Thornely.
They shared 75 for the first wicket inside 14 overs on a pitch that played true all afternoon.
Thornely, formerly of Sussex, dominated the stand with nine of ten fours as he posted 47 off 38 balls.
But when he went, the Unicorns crumbled in the face of some tight bowling from Simon Kerrigan, Stephen Parry and Croft before Junaid Khan returned to showcase his skills at the death yet again.
Tom Smith and Stephen Moore then flew out of the blocks in response, sharing 58 in eight and a half overs for the first Lightning wicket.
And they were well backed up by third wicket pair Croft and Karl Brown, who added an unbroken 93 in 15 overs to seal a third Group C win from seven matches.
“It was a good team effort,” said Croft, who hit three sixes in his 59 not out off 51 balls. “They got away with the new ball, but we tied them down with the slower bowlers.
“Pazza and Keggsy, in particular, did a great job to halt their momentum. When we knew it was with us, we had to go hard against their new ball. It was a very professional job in the end.”
Smith made 35 off 26 balls, Moore 40 off 38 and Brown an unbeaten 42 off 54 balls.
The really impressive thing about the Red Rose innings was the intent they showed. The four batsmen shared 20 fours and seven sixes, each clearing the fence at least once.
The Lightning dressing room will have seen this as the ideal preparation for next month’s Friends Life t20 quarter-final against Sussex at Hove: “We just see the 40-over game as an extension of Twenty20,” said Croft afterwards.
The majority of the home attack took punishment, but the only wicket-takers were leg-spinner Amar Rashid, the brother of Yorkshire’s Adil, and left-arm spinner Luke Beaven.
Earlier, Lancashire took wickets regularly after Thornely and Campbell (26) had started well.
Thornely was the first man to go, holing out to Paul Horton at long-on off bowling, the Red Rose fielder taking a comfortable catch.
Even then, the Unicorns would have been confident of posting a challenging total as they had done in last year’s corresponding fixture when Lancashire chased down 254 off the last ball of the match.
But spinners Parry, Kerrigan and Croft all played their part to apply the brakes by taking wickets at regular intervals from then on.
Pakistan left-arm seamer Junaid finished with 4-29 from 7.3 overs, all his wickets coming courtesy of him hitting the stumps.
Campbell (26) was caught behind by Gareth Cross off Kerrigan with the total at 78 in the 16th over before Jordan Clark affected the run out of Luis Reece, leaving the score at 114-3.
Kerrigan picked up his second wicket when he had Parsons lbw on the sweep before Craig Park fell in identical fashion to Croft’s off-spin. At that stage, the hosts were five down with 132 on the board in the 31st over.
The wickets kept on tumbling as Smith bowled Tom Friend before Junaid, who bowled wicketkeeper Josh Knappett for 42 off 61 balls, returned at the death to york Rashid, Glen Querl and Dan Wheeldon.
Lancashire are in action next against Nottinghamshire in the LV= County Championship at Southport on Tuesday.
Photo (c) Barry Mitchell
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