Lancashire Lightning's unbeaten start to their Friends Provident Twenty20 campaign came to an end at the hands of Leics Foxes on Friday.
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Photo above: Brad Hodge looks back in anguish having played the ball on to his stumps. The Australian overseas player had the last laugh, with his Man of the Match bowling performance.
The Red Rose came a cropper courtesy of a man of the match display from overseas player Brad Hodge, who took 2-16 from four overs as his Foxes comfortably defended their 141-6 to win their second game on the bounce.
Lancashire had been well placed at 63-1 in the tenth over of their response, but they lost eight wickets for 59 runs to finish on 127-9 and lose by 14 runs.
It means Lancashire have suffered their first defeat in three North Division matches this season.
“To be fair, they played better than us. That’s why they won by 14 runs,” said coach Peter Moores. “There were opportunities for us to win the game. We were up with the rate chasing for a long time, but we could never get ahead of the rate.
“We lost a couple of wickets, and put ourselves under a bit of pressure. I give them quite a bit of credit.”
Australian Hodge, who spent parts of four seasons at Old Trafford between 2005 and 2008, failed with the bat, but claimed the important wickets of Simon Katich and Steven Croft with his canny off-spin.
He was also helped out by experienced South African born left-arm spinner Claude Henderson, who finished with 2-19 removing Stephen Moore and Sajid Mahmood.
And Foxes skipper Matthew Hoggard, who earlier elected to bat first, also chipped in with an important 3-19, two of his wickets coming when Lancashire were virtually down and out in the 18th over of their response.
Moores continued: “I thought Henderson bowled really well. It turned quite a bit towards the end. Their seamers mixed their pace quite well too.”
In-form Tom Smith top scored with 48 off 50 balls, whileSimon Katich added 30 off 26. The pair shared 57 for the second wicket for the Lightning, but that was as good as it got for the Red Rose county.
Left-arm spinner Stephen Parry had earlier claimed 3-26 from his four overs to give Lancashire the upper hand at the halfway stage.
Parry, who was Lancashire’s best bowler in last season’s competition, claimed the wickets of James Benning, Hodge for four and wicketkeeper Paul Nixon for 22. Benning, who top scored with 49 off 45 balls, shared 35 for the first wicket with Jacques du Toit (31) and 53 off 44 balls with Nixon.
Captain Glen Chapple was the only other Lightning wicket taker, but there were two run outs in the last four overs.
Paul Horton had done well to hand Parry the wicket of left-hander Nixon, the former England man, because he collided with Simon Kerrigan as both converged on a skied reverse sweep from square leg and fine leg.
Moores continued: “I thought we bowled pretty well, but Nixon came in and gave them a bit of an injection. 140 was going to be competitive. We had to bat well to chase it, but we were quite confident.
“As I say, we never got ahead of the rate. We were always level. One good spell (of bowling) could put us behind. Similarly, if one batter came in and hit a good couple of overs we could have won the game. That didn’t happen, so give them the credit.”
James Anderson and Nathan McCullum are both available for Sunday’s trip to face Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Moores added: “Warwickshire have started well, and have played good one-day cricket all season. But we will go there confident because we have played some great cricket this year in the Twenty20.
“We have a clear formula, and know what we are about. Another couple of additions makes out task hard to pick a team.”
Graham Hardcastle at Old Trafford
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd