Lancashire's march towards the semi-finals of the Clydesdale Bank 40 continued with a convincing win over Leicestershire Foxes
At a sunny Grace Road, the Lightning secured a six wicket victory with 4.2 overs to spare as they chased a target of 219.
Captain Glen Chapple starred with the ball by taking four wickets in this competition for the first time since June 2006 before Ashwell Prince added to a good day for South African cricket with an excellent 85 off 89 balls, including five fours and a six.
Prince and Stephen Moore built the platform in the chase with an opening stand of 108 inside 17 overs, the latter continuing his excellent form in 40-over cricket with 60, his fifth half-century in seven matches.
The left-hander and Steven Croft then steered their side to a fifth win and third place in Group A with a 97-run stand for the second wicket inside 16 overs. Croft finished unbeaten with 57 off 58 balls after Leicester had posted 218-8.
In their search for top spot, Lancashire are now two points behind leaders Middlesex with three games in hand and a point behind second-placed Netherlands with two games in hand and them still to visit Old Trafford. A shot at a Lord’s final is very much on the cards. [Latest standings]
“It was disappointing in the last game of the four-day competition, and we needed to turn things around,” admitted Prince, referring to the 205-run defeat against Worcestershire in the County Championship last week. “It was a great effort by everyone, the bowlers and the batsmen.
“We needed to get that Championship game out of our system. The most important thing here was a victory, no matter how it came.”
Against a young Foxes side, including a batsman who is waiting on his A-level results, a Lancashire victory was on the cards from the moment Tom Smith struck with his third legitimate ball of the match when he trapped Will Jones lbw.
Smith and left-arm spinner Gary Keedy struck once each for the Lightning, who were also helped along by two wickets for Ajmal Shahzad, who had home skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan caught off a leading edge by Paul Horton at cover before bowling Michael Thornely.
But it was Chapple who led the way. He bowled Greg Smith with the new ball before returning to take the last three wickets to fall in the innings. He had Rob Taylor brilliantly caught by a diving Croft at long-on and then removed Paul Dixey and Robbie Joseph in the last over, both men caught in the circle by Smith and Prince.
Having reduced the hosts to 68-4, Lancashire were held up in their pursuit for victory by 18 year-old Shiv Thakor, a promising right-hander who has only just left sixth form college, and Matt Boyce.
Thakor top-scored with a career best 83 not out off 74 balls, including five fours and a six off Chapple over long-on, while Boyce added 53. They shared 96 inside 18 overs for the fifth wicket, a stand which included 66 singles.
But, on a good pitch, it was a score well below par, highlighted by Prince’s and Moore’s dominance within the first 12 overs of powerplay as they notched 75 runs.
Just before Moore chipped Thornely to cover, Prince had pulled Thakor’s medium pace over the ropes at deep mid-wicket, the ball bursting through Jones’s hands on the way.
Lancashire’s dominance was highlighted by the fact that the late departures of Prince, Karl Brown and Paul Horton did not even break their stride. Prince was caught at deep mid-wicket off Alex Wyatt before Taylor trapped Brown lbw and had Horton caught at slip with successive deliveries.
Lancashire’s next match in any competition is the CB40 clash with Gloucestershire at Old Trafford next Monday evening: “As far as the Championship is concerned, we are going to be in a battle to stay up if we are being realistic,” added Prince, “But, in this competition, we are doing well. Hopefully that continues.”
Photo of Ashwell prince (c) Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd