A trio of career bests from Paul Horton, Tom Smith and Sajid Mahmood presented Lancashire Lightning with their fifth successive Twenty20 Cup win tonight, a 38-run success over the Derbyshire Phantoms at Old Trafford.
Horton (pictured below) hit 41 off 20 balls, including seven fours and a six, while Smith (right) cracked three fours and a maximum in his 21-ball 32 to fire the hosts to a daunting 165-7 after being invited to bat first by visiting captain Chris Rogers.
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Pace ace Mahmood then returned an impressive 4-29 from his four overs to restrict Derbyshire, boosted by a top score of 32 for West Indian Wavell Hinds, to 127-9 from their 20 overs.
Lancashire will almost certainly secure their passage to the quarter-finals of the competition for the third consecutive year with a sixth win against the Durham Dynamos on Thursday evening.
“To be fair to the lads, they are playing really good cricket,” said coach Peter Moores. “They have done very well switching over from the Friends Provident to the shorter format of the game with both bat and ball. This win was a good win tonight. Take nothing away from Derby, but we played very well.”
Horton and Smith sped out of the blocks, recording their 50 partnership off just 22 balls. They took the score to 74 after the six overs of fielding restrictions, and finished with a stand of 75 in 40 balls. It was only when medium pacer Garry Park and leg-spinner Mark Lawson, who removed both Horton and Smith in consecutive overs, came on that Lancashire’s onslaught with the bat slowed up. The seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth overs went for just 13, as the hosts reached 87-2 at the halfway stage. Lancashire, however, returned to run-scoring ways courtesy of Steven Croft and Ashwell Prince’s fourth wicket partnership of 51.
Croft walloped John Sadler for a straight six in the 15th over that went for 15 and Prince did the same to Greg Smith (1-29 from four) in the next on the way to an unbeaten 38 off 31 balls. Park then picked up two wickets in his last two overs, including Croft for 25 to finish with 3-23 from four overs, and Lawson picked up his second wicket for impressive figures of 2-20 from four.
Moores continued: “It was a great start up front with Paul Horton and Tom Smith putting pressure on. I thought Ashwell Prince played very well to get us to an above par score. We have seen that intent shown by the two of them (Horton and Smith) in every game. They are getting better, getting to know each other as a partnership.
“They did brilliantly tonight. They weren’t reckless, they played good cricket shots. Once we got to that 160 plus, that was above par.”
Derbyshire had restricted Lancashire to taking 91 runs off the last 14 overs of the innings, and it gave them a glimmer of hope as they began their reply. Unfortunately for them, that chance soon disappeared.
Tom Smith removed Greg Smith in the second, and Glen Chapple (2-11 off three) got Jamie Pipe in the next to leave the Phantoms in the mire at 16 for two. Australian Rogers began a mini recovery with 20, but Mahmood ripped out his off and middle stumps to leave the Phantoms 36-3 after six.
Two balls into the eleventh over Park (18) was caught behind by Gareth Cross of Francois du Plessis’ leg-spin, and former Red Rose captain Stuart Law was bowled by left-arm spinner Stephen Parry for seven three overs later. Hinds (32 off 31 balls) and John Sadler (23) shared a brisk 27 for the sixth wicket before Mahmood claimed his second when Sadler holed out to deep square leg in the 18th. Hinds did the same off Chapple in the next.
Mahmood picked up his third and fourth wickets in the final over of the match, those of Graham Wagg caught at point by Mark Chilton and Tim Groenewald caught by Smith at long-on.
“He’s (Mahmood) in really good rhythm at the moment. It all bodes well for Saj that the consistency that he started to get last year is carrying on into this,” continued Moores.
Lancashire are now four points clear of Yorkshire, who sit second in the North Division with six points, and Moores added: “Before we started, you look and say that six wins gives you a good chance of qualification.”
Photos: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd