Lancashire are through to the Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-finals after a nail-biting win over the Gloucestershire Gladiators at Bristol today, in which captain Glen Chapple starred with five wickets.
Chapple stunned the hosts as they chased only 183 with a brilliant 5-26 from eight overs as the Gladiators were bowled out for 164 in the 36th over, leaving the Lightning top of Group A having won five games on the spin.
The hosts would have been confident of winning and keeping their last four hopes alive having restricted Lancashire to 182-9, but Oliver Newby’s career best 36 not out off 41 balls proved crucial in wrestling some valuable momentum late in his side’s innings.
Newby also struck with the ball to back up the impressive Ajmal Shahzad and the wicketless Stephen Parry.
Newby said: “That was a fantastic win. The lads are really pleased to get home in a tough situation and get through to a semi-final. We’re flying in this competition. We’ve got two more games to play (in the group), and hopefully we can win them both.
“It’s one of the strengths of the team that we can all contribute. We haven’t needed it so far, but it’s good to get some confidence in the lower order for myself, Chappie and Pazza to get some important runs.
“We had a game against these last year where we had to get 320, and we did. They always seem to be good games. This was the best one this year by far.”
A thrilling contest on a pitch that proved difficult to score quickly on saw Lancashire make a solid start, despite the loss of Stephen Moore as he top-edged an attempted pull off James Fuller behind to Jon Batty after Chapple had won the toss.
Ashwell Prince played his part to take the score to 63-1 in the 14th over, but he fell for 25 when he was caught at deep backward square-leg off David Payne’s bowling to spark a collapse in the visiting ranks.
Karl Brown was trapped lbw by Benny Howell before Steven Croft holed out to mid-on to hand left-arm spinner Ed Young the first of three wickets, albeit this one being a full toss. And when Gareth Cross was stumped off the same bowler two and half overs later, Lancashire were in bother at 98-5 in the 22nd.
Their worries deepened in the following over when Paul Horton was caught behind down the leg-side off Fuller’s bowling, and Shahzad holing out to long-on off Young in the 28th left the score at 117-7.
But that saw the start of a recovery for the Lightning, who got themselves firmly back into the hunt thanks to some more lower order resistance on the back of what we saw against Worcestershire in the Championship on Saturday.
Chapple and Newby shared 26 for the eighth wicket inside eight overs before the former spooned Payne to cover, leaving the score at 143-8 in the 36th over - the first of the four batting powerplay overs.
And then came the key alliance between Newby and Parry, who added 37 in 3.5 overs for the ninth wicket, which ended up being the second highest stand of the innings as they batted sensibly to pick off the singles and put away the bad balls.
After Parry was caught at third man off Payne, Newby even crashed a huge six over mid-wicket off the same bowler in the last over to go alongside his three fours. His previous best of 35 came against the same opponents in last season’s win at Cheltenham in this competition.
No sooner had Gloucester’s reply started, they were under the cosh too as Lancashire bowled and fielded like demons as they looked to claim a fifth win on the spin.
Croft led the way with another stunning catch at backward point to get rid of Hamish Marshall in Shahzad’s first over, the second of the innings, before New Zealander Rob Nicol found Parry at mid-on off Chapple in the next to leave the score at 2-2.
Howell was bowled by Chapple in the seventh, who then had Dan Housego caught behind as the Gladiators slipped to 16-4 in the 7th.
A flurry of boundaries for Alex Gidman in his quickfire 36 gave the hosts brief respite before he was the subject of another excellent catch, this time from Horton at short cover off Newby’s bowling.
Iain Cockbain followed three and a half overs later when he top-edged a sweep to Brown at backward square off Gary Keedy as the scoreboard reach 75-6 in the 17th over.
Will Gidman and Fuller then started the recover with a stand of 55 inside 10 overs for the seventh wicket before Fuller and Young added 28 for the eighth to keep the board ticking and heighten the tension after Gidman had been stumped off Croft’s off-spin.
But Chapple brought himself back into the attack and did the business by getting Young caught behind and bowling Batty to leave the score at 164-9 with the last ball of the 35th over. That left the target at 19 runs required off the last five overs, but impressive Shahzad (2-27 from 6.1) wrapped up the game with the first ball of the 36th over when Fuller edged behind to a tumbling Cross for 43.
Lancashire’s penultimate group match is against Essex Eagles at Chelmsford on Thursday night. The Red Rose need one more win-or Hampshire not to win their final game-to clinch a home semi-final at Old Trafford on Saturday september 1st.
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd
Photo: Jon Batty is bowled by Glen Chapple in a thrilling finish at Bristol (c) Andrew Lloyd/EMPICS Sport