Lancashire made the ideal start to their Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign with a thrilling five-run win over Leicestershire Foxes at Old Trafford today, although it wasn't without a few nervous moments.
The Red Rose county won this Group A clash after posting 296-3 on a belting batting track, their highest total ever in a 40-over match.
Ashwell Prince and Stephen Moore shared an opening stand of 135 in just 16.4 overs. Prince hit 79 and Moore 74 before stand-in captain Steven Croft top-scored with 82 and Karl Brown chipped in with 44 not out at the end.
Leicestershire opener Josh Cobb then walloped a career best 137 off 99 balls to put the Foxes on course to chase down Lancashire's imposing total after he had been dropped by Moore at first slip with the very first ball of the chase as Sajid Mahmood bowled.
But when he fell to a stunning Croft catch as he ran back from point off debutant Naqaash Tahir, it changed the complex of the game as Leicester, at 223-4 in the 31st and still needing 74, were left with too much to do.
Mahmood may have conceded three boundaries in the penultimate over to leave the Foxes needing 13 to spring a surprise, but Simon Kerrigan held his nerve in the final over to restrict the visitors to 291-7.
Kerrigan, who will miss the forthcoming Championship match against Sussex at Hove due to England Lions duty, was the contest's best bowler with 3-44 from eight, including a last over wicket of Claude Henderson.
Matthew Boyce scored 64 for Leicester, but it just wasn't enough.
Lancashire opener Moore said: "It was a really nice win. We'd have liked to have made the deficit a bit bigger, but Cobb batted well although he had a few chances. We showed good character. We bowled well and fielded well at the right times.
"It was a beautiful wicket to bat on after some of the wickets we've played on in the Championship. It's a fantastic start for us. We got 296 and defended it nicely."
Both sides bowling and fielding was a little bit rusty, although there was the odd moment of magic, with Croft's catch ultimately being the decider.
Prince fell to a stunning relayed catch by Robbie Joseph at long-off, the ball having been originally caught by Cobb at long-on and then thrown in the air before he ran over the boundary. Henderson took the wicket.
In truth, Lancashire should have posted a score in excess of 300 after such a commanding start, but they still had enough in the bank. Cobb shared 110 for the fourth wicket with Boyce inside 14 overs.
Boyce was caught at deep mid-wicket by Croft to leave Leicester five down before Wayne White was run out after his version of the Dilscoop went wrong and ended up in the hands of Gareth Cross with White, who had set off for a run not realising where the ball had gone, out of his ground.
Kerrigan then bowled Henderson off the inside edge with the third ball of the last over.
Moore added: "We got off to a slow start in this competition last year, but played well after Twenty20. We had a good think over the winter, so it's nice to come out and play with the kind of intensity we want."
Lancashire's next fixture in Group A is against the Essex Eagles at Old Trafford in a fortnight's time.
Photo of Stephen Moore (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd