Lancashire's chances of reaching the semi-finals of the Clydesdale Bank 40 are hanging by the thinnest of threads after losing a thrilling contest
The Sussex Sharks clinched a four wicket victory to inflict a fifth Group A defeat on Lancashire who failed to defend 244-7, although they pushed the reigning champions all the way into the last over.
Lancashire’s innings was built around captain Paul Horton’s 69 off 73 balls after the stand-in skipper won the toss and elected to bat first. The Lightning were later boosted by an unbeaten 36 from Kyle Hogg, fresh from receiving his county cap before the match.
Joe Gatting’s 71 off 82 balls was the top score in the Sussex chase, but it took late efforts of 46 not out from Mike Yardy and 30 from Andrew Hodd to seal the win with four balls to spare.
Horton said: “I think it’s pretty disappointing because 244 was probably more than a par score on that sort of wicket.
“There’s a couple of thing we could have done better, a couple of things I got wrong. But that is all part of the learning curve for us.
“For the dressing room to be disappointed having lost out in the last over against one of the best one-day sides in the country with our young side, that is a benchmark we should set. We didn’t play with our overseas player and without our captain.
“It was nice to put in that sort of performance tonight yet know there are areas where we can get better at.”
On the hopes of qualification, Horton added: “I think they have disappeared to be honest because we lost too many games earlier in the season.”
The Lightning’s highest partnership had been 40 for the fourth wicket between Horton and Gareth Cross (19), while they had five others that reached the 30s.
They lost wickets regularly, although Hogg hit a six and three fours in his 30-ball effort at the end to put the runs on the board.
The 27 year-old scored the bulk of the 33 runs gleaned from the last three and a half overs in partnership with Stephen Parry.
James Kirtley took 3-35 from seven overs for the visitors, while Yardy, Monty Panesar and Ollie Rayner also struck as spin proved effective.
Ed Joyce and Chris Nash gave Sussex a flyer in their chase, Nash helping to take 23 runs off Daren Powell’s first two overs.
Nash, however, found Karl Brown, on the leg side boundary, off the bowling of Hogg in the third over.
Joyce (46) and Gatting kept their side on top with a second wicket of 63 inside 13 overs, but Joyce’s departure gave Lancashire some fresh impetus.
The Irish left hander dragged the left arm of Parry onto his middle stump to leave the score at 86-2 in the 15th over before Murray Goodwin chipped to a diving Horton at short cover six overs later.
And, when Gatting was trapped lbw by Gary Keedy, Sussex were 174-4 in the 30th over. Keedy had ripped one past the outside edged before sliding his next delivery into the right hander’s pads.
Sussex needed 70 off the last ten overs, and their hopes seemed to rest with captain Yardy and wicketkeeper Hodd.
The 33rd and 34th overs went for 19 runs as the visitors hit out decisivley, and with Sussex holding back their batting powerplay back until the final four overs, the advantage was always just in favour of the Sharks.
Smith, bowling the 39th over, bowled Hodd and had Yasir Arafat caught at long on by Croft to ensure a nail-biting finish.
In the end, Yardy and Hodd’s fifth wicket alliance of 44 proved to be crucial.
Graham Hardcastle at Old Trafford
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd