Lancashire thumped Durham in tonight's Friends Life t20 clash at Old Trafford by eight wickets with six overs to spare to move joint top of the North Division
Gary Keedy, Yasir Arafat, Steven Croft and Tom Smith starred as Keedy claimed 4-25 and Arafat 3-21 from their four overs, the latter becoming the leading wicket-taker in English domestic t20 cricket by passing fellow Pakistani Azhar Mahmood to reach 99 after previous spells with Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
And then Croft, in particular, and Smith blasted away in reply to clinch a third win in four matches in double quick time with a second-wicket stand of 103 from 11.4 overs.
Croft finished 65 not out off 44 balls, hitting four fours and four sixes, while Smith added 40 off 31 balls, falling as he tried to finish the match with a six. Karl Brown had the honour of hitting the winning runs, while Croft was rewarded with the man of the match award.
Ahead of Friday’s trip to face Yorkshire Carnegie at Headingley, Lancashire, Notts and the White Rose all have seven points from five matches.
“It was a really pleasing performance,” said captain Glen Chapple. “Our bowlers had good plans and adapted to the conditions really well. Keeds bowled really well. To take four wickets in four overs is a great effort.
“The game’s never over at half-time. All our batsmen are in really good form. Stephen Moore has been brilliant, but he missed out to give Crofty a chance. His was a brilliant innings.”
After losing the toss, Lancashire made an impressive start thanks to wickets for Arafat and Chapple in the first six overs of powerplay, restricting the visitors to 30-2.
Arafat struck towards the end of the third over when he forced Herschelle Gibbs to top-edge an attempted pull to Smith at mid-on before Chapple had England hopeful Ben Stokes out in one of the more unusual ways in the sixth over, hit wicket.
Stokes clipped a ball out towards the mid-wicket boundary, but the left-hander trod on his stumps setting off for the first run.
Phil Mustard hit a couple of boundaries in 22, the second of them a sweetly struck drive off Chapple wide of mid-off.
But the Durham wicketkeeper fell in the ninth after a mix-up with Johann Myburgh resulted in him being run out at the non-striker’s end after reverse sweeping Stephen Parry to Arafat at short third-man.
That left the score at 47-3 in the ninth - and it was soon 53-4 in the tenth when Keedy clipped visiting skipper Dale Benkenstein’s off-stump with a peach of a delivery.
Like Mustard, Myburgh also made 22, falling when he found safe hands Croft, who took a tumbling catch at long-on with a flat batted strike off Keedy in the 12th over, leaving the Dynamos in deep trouble at 65-5.
Gareth Breese relieved some of the pressure with successive boundaries off Keedy in the 14th over as he top-scored with 33.
Gordon Muchall eased Smith for six over straight mid-wicket in the 15th before Durham’s hundred came up in the 16th. But they lost a wicket with the first ball of the 17th when Muchall tried to repeat the dose off Arafat and was caught by Smith.
Arafat also added the wicket of Breese in the same over, caught at mid-off by Croft, before Keedy added his third wicket when Liam Plunkett was deceived by a slower ball and played on.
Keedy also had Mitchell Claydon caught and bowled for a golden duck to bring up a hat-trick ball with the score at 113-9.
Keedy missed out on the milestone, allowing Luke Procter to pick up the final wicket of Graham Onions in the final over courtesy of a superb tumbling catch by Paul Horton after running backwards from cover.
Despite losing Stephen Moore to Claydon in the second over of the chase, caught at deep square-leg by Myburgh, Lancashire made the most of the six overs of powerplay thanks in the main to 23 coming off Onions in the fifth over. Croft pulled two sixes and added two fours, scoring all 23 himself.
Croft also drove Plunkett for six over cover before Smith lofted Borthwick’s leg-spin into the new player and media facilities in the ninth, which went for 17. Croft brought up his fifty off 34 balls before Borthwick grabbed a consolatory wicket with the game done and dusted.
“We’re only halfway through the group stages, and we still have a lot of work to do to get to the quarter-finals,” added Chapple.
Photo of Steven Croft (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd