Royal London Cup Lancashire v Northamptonshire at Old Trafford

Royal London Cup Lancashire Lightning  v Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Old Trafford April 24th

Neil Whitaker reports

LANCASHIRE Lightning won their second consecutive Royal London one-day cup match as they beat Northamptonshire Steelbacks by 45 runs under DLS.

Chasing 270 to win the Lightning openers Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings soon got the Lightning above the rate.  To stem the runs the Steelbacks brought on off spinner Josh Cobb on inside the first 10 overs but it made no difference.

The pair broke the record for the Lightning first wicket against the Steelbacks.  Beating the 125 made by Jason Gallian and Paddy McKeown at Northampton in 1996.  The partnership was broken five runs later when Haseeb Hameed pushed Rob Keogh to square leg off for a single and set for a single but Jennings didn’t beat Saif Zaib’s direct hit.

Aussie Glenn Maxwell got off the mark when he clipped Zaib off his legs for a six over mid wicket.  He hit the next ball for another six this time over square leg.  The Lightning lost their second wicket when Haseeb Hameed  tried to run Luke Procter through the vacant slip area but edged it to stumper Adam Rossington.  Three balls later the rain drove the players off the field never to return.

After putting the Steelbacks in the Lightning were always in command.  Saqib Mahmood took his best List A figures of six for 37 in his 10 overs and became the first Lightning  bowler to take six wickets since Glenn Chappell took six wickets for 25 against Yorkshire at Emerald Headingley in 1998.  He joins Chapple who did it twice, David Hughes and Colin Croft.

He got his first  wicket in his second over when he beat Cobb with one that nipped back in at him.  His second wicket came in his second over when Richard Levi pulled a short ball from straight to Steven Croft at deep square leg.   Steelbacks skipper Alex Wakely became Saqib Mahmood’s third victim when he  pushed forward at him and edged it to Lightning skipper Dane Vilas took a great catch behind the stumps leaping to his right.

Keogh‘ s 97 ball innings without a boundary ended when top edged a cut off Saqib Mahmood for Vilas to take a regulation catch.

Saqib Mahmood got his sixth wicket when Ben Sanderson bottom edged a drive  and Maxwell running in from the cover boundary took a steapling catch.  Saqib Mahmood said: “It’s been a great day and the openers put on a good partnership but a win is a win.  I am really happy  because in the last two years I’ve missed out here.  After every game the bowlers are going away and working on something and working on things that they can use in a match. I am happy with what I have done.  I tried today but not too hard  because in the past couple of games I have come in too hard.

It’s hard work to bowl in this completion with a short boundary.  I enjoyed taking three wickets against Yorkshire the other day at Emerald Headingley. When you win you cannot wait for the next game.”

Wakely said: “Saqib Mahmood’s opening spell was the quickest I’ve seen in a long time.”

Windies skipper Jason Holder top scored for the Steelbacks with 72, his third score of 50 in four knocks taking his average in the competition to 86.  He shared in a sixth wicket partnership 87 in 15 over with Keogh which rescued the Steelbacks innings.

The Lightning should have got rid of Holder when he had made only three. He pushed Graham  Onions out into the covers and set off for a single.  With Holder struggling to make the crease Josh Bohannon’s throw was so wide that it went for four overthrow’s.

A big hit by Holder off Liam Hurt landed in between three Lightning players and rolled to the boundary. In the next over Holder launched over mid wicket for a huge six in the stand below the Point.

He reached his 50 in the competition with a late cut off Saqib Mahmood for a couple. Holder threw everything at Maxwell but only got an outside edge but still got the ball to extra cover boundary.  He majestically pulled Matt Parkinson for a six over cow corner into the Stand below the Point.

Holder drove Saqib Mahmood looking for another six under the Point but found Maxwell who ran round from mid wicket to the boundary edge who parried it to Rob Jones who  ran round from long on and caught it at the second attempt.  Saqib Mahmood said: “It was a great catch, I couldn’t believe the work of Maxwell that  I completely forgot that Jones took the catch.”

Keogh  whose  66 was his best score in this year’s Royal London, clipped Hurt off his legs for a couple to bring up his fifty off 78 balls with no fours. On 37 he edged Onions agonisingly  inches wide off the diving Vilas to the third man boundary.

With the Steelbacks losing three early wickets they had to rebuild and not take too many risks but they nearly lost a fourth wicket when Keogh on five turned Maxwell’s first ball  to Onions at short fine leg set off for a single and Ricardo Vasconelos just beat Onions direct hit.

Unperturbed by that chance the pair added 76 in 17 overs and laid the foundation’s to launch Holder’s innings.  Vasconelos reached his fifty, which came from 51 balls with five fours, when he swept Maxwell to square leg boundary.  His fifty came 61 balls with five fours.  Without adding to his score he was bowled by Parkinson by one that pitched in the rough and turned in.

The Lightning thought they had got their eighth wicket when former Lightning player Procter bottom edged a drive off Hurt and Maxwell made a valiant attempt to take the catch but as he fell he grounded the ball.  Three balls later Zaib chipped Hurt off his legs to Parkinson at short fine leg.

After consecutive fours by Procter off Hurt in the last over, the first through the covers and the second a chip  over fine leg,  he tried to slog a six off the last ball but found Maxwell at long on but with his 36 from 31 balls the Steelbacks had a score to defend.