Leicestershire start Blast campaign with last ball victory at Liverpool

Leicestershire start Blast campaign with last ball victory at Liverpool

Liverpool may have been the centre of the football world on Sunday, with the return of one of the city’s most famous sons Wayne Rooney to his boyhood club Everton from Manchester United.

But at Aigburth, Liverpool’s cricket ground, it was the side who had de-camped from Manchester just for this game who were the star attraction.

With the sun beating down, a lightning fast outfield, a glorious backdrop, two high-quality teams and a thrilling last-ball finish, the T20 Blast’s visit to the birthplace of the Beatles had all the ingredients you could ever want.

For a while it looked as though it would be Leicestershire who needed ‘Help’ as Lancashire’s dangerous duo of Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone hit it ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ around Aigburth.

But some excellent bowling from Leicestershire dragged the Lightning back to a below-par total on a small ground with a rapid outfield, one which the Foxes chased down from the final ball thanks to an excellent half-century from Colin Ackermann.

Having inserted Lancashire, Foxes skipper Clint McKay wanted early inroads and provided them himself, getting Karl Brown caught behind in the first over for just four.

From there, the powerplay was a story of runs flowing and wickets falling. Arron Lilley fell for an entertaining cameo of 30 from just 17 balls while Steven Croft departed for a first-ball duck.

At the end of the first six overs Lancashire were 53-3. Then it was time for the Buttler-Livingstone show.

The pair put on a showcase of T20 batting, hitting all parts of the ground in a stand of 72 from only 37 balls. It was the kind of batting that the near 4000 spectators had come to Liverpool to see and demonstrated everything that is good about this form of the game.

When Matthew Parkinson ended the stand in the 13th over by removing Buttler, Lancashire were 112-4 and the wheels rather fell off their innings.

They only managed one more boundary in their 20 overs. The Foxes took four wickets in the next five overs as Livingstone departed for a well-made 48 from 33 balls and Dane Vilas and Jordan Clark fell cheaply.

Danny Lamb offered some lower-order resistance with 22, but when Tom Bailey was run out off the final ball Lancashire will have been disappointed to only reach 173-9 from their 20 overs. Especially having been in such a strong position when Buttler and Livingstone were firing.

There were thoughts that Leicestershire would reach that target with plenty in the tank as they set off like a train in the powerplay.

After just three overs they had reached 38-0. Two wickets in three balls got Lancashire going, as Danny Lamb dismissed Cameron Delport and Stephen Parry picked up the dangerous overseas star Luke Ronchi – both caught by Steven Croft.

The two sides mirrored each other pretty closely throughout the innings and Lancashire had as much trouble dealing with the hard outfield as the Foxes did.

Mark Cosgrove was giving the impression that Aigburth wasn’t big enough for him, advancing the score from 58-2 at the end of the powerplay to 103-3 when he departed for a well made 34 in the 11th over.

Leicestershire looked in control of their chase but Lancashire began to chip away. Ned Eckersley fell to Parry, before Tom Wells was on his way as well.

With two overs remaining, Leicestershire needing 16 to win with four wickets in hand. The tension and atmosphere was building.

Mathew Pillans played a crucial role in the Foxes’ success, launching the final ball of the penultimate over for six. That left an equation of six needed from the last over.

Still Lancashire wouldn’t give up, restricting the batsmen to singles before Jarvis dismissed Pillans to leave two needed from the last ball of the match.

Cue Ackermann, who belted the ball away over cover for a maximum to seal the win and prompt raucous celebrations from the travelling side. Ackermann had made 64 from 41 and was rightly delighted with his performance.

“Delport and Ronchi set a beautiful platform for myself to come in and play with freedom,” he said.

“You have to come in with good intent to hit the ball and run hard.

“I think on this wicket you just had to keep it simple and my midset was to stand still and just hit that last ball.

“We’ve had a couple of tough weeks but this is the cherry on top now. We deserved this win, we’ve worked really hard. You have to take it game by game, we look at the positives and build on that.”

Lancashire captain Steven Croft was less thrilled with the result, but believes his side played some good cricket despite the defeat.

“Very disappointing to lose the game, he said. “We weren’t quite there in all disciplines, we made some bad decisions at crucial times and probably didn’t deserve to win the game.

“We had a competitive total not knowing what a good total was. I thought we were a bit off with the ball. I don’t think it was a shocking performance, we just made some mistakes at crucial times.”




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