Glen Chapple returned to lead Lancashire to their first t20 victory of the season against defending champions Leics Foxes at Grace Road
"The rain set early in tonight," wrote Robert Browning in Porphyria's Lover, but what was true in Donetsk this evening did not apply at Grace Road where Lancashire Lighting and Leicestershire Foxes grabbed the opportunity provided by a break in the weather to play their Friends Life t20 match.
And it was a happy journey for the loyal band of Lancastrian strangers and brothers who made their way to C. P. Snow's home city as Glen Chapple's side produced a disciplined performance in all departments to beat Leicestershire by 11 runs.
The victory was especially welcome in view of Thursday's evening defeat at the hands of Derbyshire and it also perhaps laid the ghost of last year's defeat at Old Trafford when Abdul Razzaq's explosive 62 not out off 30 balls secured a memorable win for the Foxes.
This evening's game was different. There were substantially fewer big hits but much more opportunist running between the wickets and canny bowling. The latter quality exemplified by the Lancashire skipper Chapple, whose 2-22 led his team's thrifty defence of the 154-8 they had harvested, and the former by the efforts of Stephen Moore, who topscored with 58,
Chapple claimed the first wicket when he had Ramnaresh Sarwan caught behind by Gareth Cross in the fourth over but it was Yasir Arafat who took the second an over later when Jacques du Toit top-edged a formidable skier which Cross did well to grab as it dribbled via gloves to cap and back to the eager Boltonian's guantlets.
Those early successes began Lightning's steady attempt to place a stranglehold on the run-rate, and Stephen Parry, trusted to bowl into the strong wind, garnered further dividends when Josh Cobb drove him straight to Steven Croft at long on and Greg Smith trod on his wicket two balls later.
That left the Foxes on 62-4 at the end of the ninth over and Luke Procter grabbed his only wicket of the evening two overs later when Rob Taylor's undignified smear was caught by Croft at cover.
From that point on, the Foxes' asking rate climbed steadily as Razzaq bided his time before unleashing an assault. Yet the ball didn't come onto the bat on this Grace Road pitch and only when Procter's third over went for 14 did the small home crowd have much to cheer.
Leicestershire needed 36 off the last three overs but Chapple had Matt Boyce caught behind for 26 and Arafat settled matters in the next set of six when Paul Horton judged a steepler perfectly at cover to remove Razzaq for 36. The remaining deliveries were played out in an atmosphere of anti-climax as Matthew Hoggard's men finished on 143 for eight, Chapple finishing with 2-22, Arafat 2-32 and Parry 2-33.
No one except the captain should be singled out, however. This was a collective effort and a collective success, the only sour note being a shoulder injury sustained by Chapple when he aggravated a problem which had its origins in net practice.
"It was superb to win away from home but it was a tough game of cricket," said the Lightning skipper. "Some of the guys had really good nights, but as a team we all did our own bit.
"It looked a really good pitch and the lads came off saying it looked a good pitch, but it wasn't that easy to time the ball. Stephen Moore built a good innings and was more explosive towards the end.
"We got an above par score by going about it slightly differently and the lads adapted really well. We were asked to bat first because there was a bit of weather around, but it didn't come. I'm pleased that I played, and I'll look forward to playing some more."
Chapple's praise of Moore was well-merited. The opener was one of only three Lancashire batsmen to score above 20 and his 44-ball 58 was an even more significant innings than it appears on the scorecard. It was Moore's fifth half-century in seven one-day innings this season.
Moore hit the only six of the innings when he deposited Rob Taylor over midwicket for six in the ninth over and he also hit five of his side's eight boundaries, two of which came off successive balls in Hoggard's third over.
And after a rather slow start in which Lancashire had struggled to 28 for two in 4.3 overs, it was Moore and Karl Brown who revitalised the innings with a stand of 78 in 8.3 overs, with Moore often chivvying his partner into an extra run.
After the opener's dismissal, caught at long off by Rob Taylor off Wayne White, Lancashire were indebted to Arafat, who already looks an excellent acquisition for t20 cricket.The Rawalpindi-born all rounder made 20 off 11 balls to help Lancashire to their match-winning total.
Photo (c) Neal Simpson/EMPICS
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd