Lancashire are up to second in the North Division after a hard fought six wicket Friends Provident t20 win against Leicestershire at Grace Road
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Steven Croft top scored with 42 off 36, but Australian overseas star Simon Katich played a key role with 41 not out off 19 balls as the Lightning pursued a difficult 177 with just three balls to spare.
Katich’s effort was a season’s best, and he shared an unbroken 57 for the fifth wicket with Paul Horton (30 not out) to ensure the Red Rose recorded their highest ever Twenty20 run chase.
Foxes pair Jacques du Toit and James Taylor had shared a damaging third wicket partnership of 92 in eleven overs to bolster their side’s score of 176-6.
Sajid Mahmood and Nathan McCullum took the majority of the punishment, going for 46 and 40 runs from their four overs respectively. But Mahmood hit back with three wickets, including a fine running caught and bowled effort to get rid of Josh Cobb in his final over.
“This puts us into second now, which is a good place to be with seven games to go,” said Katich, who was playing his ninth and final 20-over match for the county.
“In the last week we have had three wins against some good sides in Durham, Warwickshire and these guys, who have won it in the past. That gives us a lot of confidence.”
South African opener du Toit hit five fours and three sixes in 69 off 50 balls, while England Lions batsman Taylor added 61 off 37 balls, including four fours and three sixes.
Left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan, who took the new ball with New Zealander McCullum, Tom Smith and Glen Chapple were the other wicket takers for the Red Rose, who were invited to field first by Matthew Hoggard.
Stephen Moore hit three sixes in a breezy 26 to get the chase up and running, but fell in the fifth over when he skewed Nathan Buck to James Benning in the covers.
Fellow opener Smith also added 32 off 25 before he was trapped lbw by South African born Claude Henderson, who also got McCullum the same way next ball to leave the score at 76-3 in the ninth.
At this stage the game looked marginally in Leicestershire’s favour – Lancashire, after all, needed 94 off the last 60 balls with the influential Henderson still having three overs to bowl.
But in-form Croft, who hit 68 off 45 balls on Tuesday, got them going again with a couple of lusty blows. When he was out caught behind to Benning in the 15th, the Red Rose needed 46 off the last five.
However, Horton and Katich came together and convincingly steered their side to another two points. Left-handed Katich, who will play in the Roses Championship fixture against Yorkshire at Old Trafford on Monday, hit six fours off his first ten balls to race beyond Horton.
“It was a fantastic win,” continued Katich, who will link up with the Australian Test squad for their series against Pakistan towards the end of next week. “They’re a good bowling unit. We found that out the hard way at Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago, so to get the runs under pressure was good.”
Lancashire’s next Twenty20 match is against Derbyshire at Chesterfield on Sunday, July 4.
Graham Hardcastle at Grace Road
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd