Lancashire cricket team begin home Blast campaign with two wins
After losing to the Hampshire Hawks by just one run in the final of the 2022 T20 Blast, the Lancashire Lightning demonstrated why they are viewed by many as the favourites for this year’s edition in their first two home games.
After beginning their campaign with an away win at the Derbyshire Falcons, the Lightning welcomed the Leicestershire Foxes to Old Trafford on May 25 for their first home match of the season, with high hopes that Lancashire could make it two out of two.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat, the Foxes started relatively strongly, ending the first two overs on 16-0. However, Luke Wood took two wickets in the third over, and a couple more fell shortly afterwards courtesy of Colin de Grandhomme, to leave Leicestershire struggling on 35-4 after seven.
The fifth wicket partnership between Wiaan Mulder and Rishi Patel gave the Foxes some hope, with the two striking 26 off 21 balls. However, this would prove to be the highest partnership in their innings. Patel fell after 10.3 before South African Mulder was caught on 25 by Tom Hartley just six balls later to leave Leicestershire 65-6. After that, there was just one boundary as the Foxes were eventually bowled out for just 99 after 18.5 overs.
Set a low target of 100, the Foxes gave themselves some hope by removing Luke Wells for 4 after 1.3 overs to leave Lancashire on 8-1. However, the second wicket partnership between Phil Salt and Steven Croft was extremely successful, with the Lightning 58-1 after the powerplay, compared to the Foxes’ 27-3. The partnership delivered 60 runs off 31 balls before Salt was removed by Rehan Ahmed.
However, by this time, Lancashire was well on their way to victory and, with Daryl Mitchell scoring 25 at a strike rate of 178, the Lightning reached their target with 75 balls remaining, Croft falling just short of a half-century on 46.
The result promoted Lancashire to the top of the North group on four points, while Leicestershire fell to the bottom after losing their first game of the season.
Next up for the Lightning was a visit by the Notts Outlaws on May 27, who had themselves beaten Derbyshire at Trent Bridge just one day before.
This time, Lancashire won the toss, and they chose to bat. This time, the Lightning would not lose their first wicket until the sixth over when Wells was caught on 38 by Tom Moores off Conor McKerr, having struck a partnership of 56 with Phil Salt. Two quick wickets, though, from Samit Patel left Lancashire 86-3 after ten, as the Outlaws fought back.
However, another wicket would not fall until the eighteenth over as Daryl Mitchell and Liam Livingstone scored 82 runs off 45 balls to put the Lightning back in a strong position. Mitchell once again batted well, surviving a dropped catch to score 85 not out from just 41 balls, an inning which included six sixes.
Lancashire eventually finished on 208-4, setting a tough target for the Outlaws to chase. Only two teams (Warwickshire against Northamptonshire and Yorkshire against Durham) successfully chased higher totals in the 2022 T20 Blast.
Nottinghamshire got off to the worst possible start, losing both of their opening batters, Joe Clarke and Alex Hales, early on, with both wickets courtesy of Luke Wood. This left the Outlaws 8-2 after 2.2.
However, a third-wicket partnership of 78 off 38 between Colin Munro and Matthew Montgomery brought Notts back into the game, before the former was caught by Salt off Wells on 60. Montgomery was run out three overs later, having scored 41 himself.
Nevertheless, the Outlaws were ahead of the required run rate after 14 overs, on course for back-to-back away wins to start their season.
However, a fantastic over by Wood in the fifteenth restricted the Outlaws to just four runs and, with captain Steven Mullaney caught on 19 two overs later, Nottinghamshire were left needing 48 from the final three to win.
In the end, the Outlaws fell short, finishing 186-5, handing the Lightning a 22-run victory. This result moved Lancashire two points clear at the top of the North Group, with the Lightning already on course to advance to the knockout stage.
Lancashire does not play another home match until Jun 7, when they face Worcestershire in Blackpool, following four away games to Warwickshire, Yorkshire, Durham and the return fixture against Nottinghamshire. The Lightning return to Old Trafford on June 18 hosting Durham.
If Lancashire finishes in the top four in their group, they will qualify for the knockout stages. The quarter-finals to take place on July 6-7 with finals day to take place on July 15 at Edgbaston.