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Date: 21st June 2012
A Paul Edwards copyright exclusive for L&DCC Official Website.
At Old Trafford: Friends Life t20: Lancashire Lightning, 180 for two (19) (Moore 54, Smith 42, Croft 41 not out, Brown 39 not out) beat Leicestershire Foxes, 179 for four (20) (Boyce 63 not out, Razz
A flattish Old Trafford pitch, some indifferent bowling and a host of batsmen eager to make hay produced a run-stuffed Friends Life t20 match on Wednesday evening and a second successive victory for Lancashire Lightning, who chased down 180 to beat the Leicestershire Foxes with eight wickets and six balls to spare.
On an evening when a host of records tumbled, Lancashire's total equalled their second-highest second innings score in Twenty20 and the most they have ever scored at home when not batting first in cricket's shortest form.
Yet an evening dominated by batsmen began with the bowlers on top and Leicestershire's innings proved the virtues of patience even in the short form of the game. Restricted to just 50 for three in the first ten overs, the Foxes produced an array of attacking shots in the second half of the innings, with 81 runs being scored off the last five overs and 55 off the final 18 deliveries.
For the second year in succession Abdul Razzaq enjoyed himself in a Twentyt20 match at Old Trafford, hitting 61 off 51 balls with three fours and three sixes, but the Pakistani batsman was almost overshadowed by Matt Boyce, whose unbeaten 63 occupied a mere 38 deliveries. Boyce helped Wayne White demolish the Lancashire attack in the latter stages of the innings as the Leicestershire batsmen shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 58 off just 21 balls.
The main bowlers to suffer were Gary Keedy, whose nought for 53 equalled the second most expensive spell in Twenty20 cricket for Lancashire, and Luke Procter, whose two overs cost 28 runs, 23 of them in his last six deliveries. All of which made a notable contrast with the performance of Lightning skipper Glen Chapple, who had removed Greg Smith and Ramanresh Sarwan in a four-over spell costing ten runs, the most economical Twenty20 bowling by a Lancashire player given a full allotment.
Chapple's successes, allied with the dismissal of Josh Cobb by Yasir Arafat, reduced the Foxes to 29 for three in the sixth over. Razzaq and Boyce rebuilt the innings with care, only to launch a ferocious counter-attack in the last ten overs.
But scoring nine-an-over is no longer an unclimbable peak for today's young county cricketers. Using beautifully made bats whose pick-up belies their weight, batsmen like Tom Smith or Steven Croft are confident of their ability to clear the longest boundaries. As Michael Holding put it when commentating on the One-Day International at the Oval: "Today's bats have no edges; they have a front, a back and two sides,"
And, in truth, Lancashire won at something of a canter. Smith and Stephen Moore gave them the ideal start by taking 60 off the first six overs and Moore reached his sixth fifty in eight limited overs innings this season off 27 balls.
The dismissal of the prolific opener, bowled by Claude Henderson for 54, and that of Smith, caught at deep midwicket by Boyce off Rob Taylor for 42, prompted the briefest reassessment of Lancashire's task before Seven Croft and Karl Brown recommenced the assault.
The fifty stand came up in 27 balls and the partnership had yielded 67 runs in 7.3 overs when the game ended, although its outcome had not been in much doubt for an over or so. Croft hit two sixes in his unbeaten 41 and Brown a quartet of fours in his well-crafted 39 not out off 23 balls. Slow left-armer Henderson took one for 26 and was easily the pick of Matthew Hoggard's attack. The remainder were put to the sword in brutal fashion.
"We won two down with an over to spare, so realistically we could have gone on to make 190-plus which at Old Trafford would represent a really strong score," said Chapple.
"On another day it could have been a really tough chase but run-rate isn't as much of an issue these days. If the lads stay in, they believe they are going to find the fence often enough to match most run-rates."
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