Lancashire 105 for 2 (Croft 46*) beat Leicestershire 99 (Wood 3-11, Mahmood 3-17) by eight wickets
Lancashire’s star-studded line-up gave Liam Livingstone the perfect start to his spell as Lightning’s Vitality Blast captain with a landslide eight-wicket win over Leicestershire at Emirates Old Trafford.
Livingstone didn’t bat or bowl in this lunchtime fixture, with his England white-ball team-mate Wood setting the tone with two wickets in the third over. He got openers Sol Budinger and Nick Welch caught pulling as the score fell to 17 for 2.
Lancashire have started their bid for what could be a record-breaking 10th Finals Day appearance – Hampshire have also previously qualified for nine – by winning two from two at the start of the North Group.
Wood’s fiery new-ball spell seemed to scramble the minds of Leicestershire’s batters, with nine of the 10 wickets falling to catches in their first game of the competition. Wiaan Mulder’s 25 was the only score above 20.
When the easier-paced seam of Colin de Grandhomme was introduced in the fourth over, Arron Lilley chipped to midwicket and later Colin Ackermann was bowled aiming a big heave at a slower ball from the former New Zealand allrounder – leaving Leicestershire 35 for 4 after seven.
Wickets continued to fall, three in four overs, as Leicestershire slipped deeper into trouble at 74 for 7 in the 14th. Matthew Parkinson struck with his third ball in the 11th when Rishi Patel tried to break the shackles and miscued to Wood at long-on before Mahmood had Mulder caught at deep midwicket pulling in the next.
Wood then returned to get Rehan Ahmed caught behind trying to uppercut a short ball in the 14th over, the England allrounder falling for 6.
That brought about a battle of the Parkinson twins, Matthew and Callum, the latter attempting to retrieve what already looked a lost cause. Callum survived against his brother, picking up a couple of singles off him on the way to 9. But he then fell caught behind off a top edge against Lancashire’s other New Zealand allrounder Daryl Mitchell.
As the Foxes fell to 94 for 8 in the 18th over, Parkinson became the fourth batter out attempting to pull.
Mahmood then wrapped up the innings – Leicestershire’s fifth-lowest in Blast history – with two more wickets caught off miscues in the 19th over, Pakistan debutant fast bowler Naseem Shah and Will Davis falling.
South African Mulder took the new ball for the Foxes and struck in the second over when Luke Wells followed a number of visiting batters by falling caught on the pull, leaving Lancashire at 8 for 1.
Croft and Phil Salt then shared 60 inside six overs for the second wicket, both hitting sixes. Salt was then superbly caught at backward point by a diving Patel off Ahmed’s legspin for 28, but it was nothing more than a consolatory wicket at 68 for 2 in the seventh.
Mitchell later hit a six off Davis over backward square-leg to seal victory and finish 25 not out.
Such is the strength of the Red Rose county’s team, captain Livingstone’s contribution was limited to captaincy alone upon his return from IPL duty. And England limited-overs skipper Jos Buttler will be added to the mix in time for next Thursday’s Roses clash at Headingley.
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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