A third successive century in two different formats from Keaton Jennings wasn’t enough to secure Lancashire victory in their Royal London One-Day Cup opener against defending champions Nottinghamshire at Old Trafford.
Jennings was magnificent in making 136 from 129 balls in a Lancashire chase that for a long time appeared to be on the right track.
Their target of 319 – the highest score by Notts against Lancashire in List A cricket – seemed in reach for much of the innings thanks to Jennings’ brilliance.
He marshalled the chase superbly, playing a string of proper strokes and offering no chance to the Notts bowlers. Many of the runs early in his innings came behind square, running quick ones and twos with superb efficiency and maintaining the momentum of the innings despite losing various partners.
Alex Davies departed with just 25 on the board, before Liam Livingstone perished for a brisk 33. After 20 overs, Lancashire had pushed on to 115-2 as Jennings shared a 50-partnership with Dane Vilas, brought up from just 51 balls.
At the halfway stage, the hosts were ahead of the rate on 152-2 in comparison to Notts’ 136-3 at the same point.
Vilas departed for a well-made 41, but Jennings found another willing partner in Steven Croft. The pair would share an 87-partnership and Jennings posted his century during that stand. It came from 98 balls and he was looking as composed at that point as he had at any stage through his knock.
Jennings entered this match after successive County Championship centuries against Somerset and Notts. His name continues to be mentioned in England circles and this will only strengthen that feeling.
But his efforts were to prove to be in vain. Lancashire had named a team that always appeared to be light on batsman and so it proved. Croft’s dismissal triggered a slide from 245-4 to 301-9 as Notts killed the momentum that had been built up.
Jennings’ dismissal was the final hope gone for Lancashire as Jordan Clark, Arron Lilley, Joe Mennie and Stephen Parry all fell cheaply in the pursuit of desperate late-order runs.
Ultimately, Notts won by nine runs as Lancashire ended their innings on 309-9.
It was a target set up by an excellent knock from skipper Steven Mullaney. He struck 70 from 54 balls to kick Notts on after Lancashire had gained control in the middle over.
There were also half-centuries for Chris Nash at the top of the order and New Zealand international Ross Taylor at number four as the reigning champions posted a solid target but one that was felt to be within reach.
England Lions leg-spinner Matt Parkinson delivered career-best figures of 5-68 as Lancashire took a flurry of late-order wickets to bowl Notts out one ball short of their 50-over allocation.
But a strong bowling effort at the death, from Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney in particular, clinched victory for the Outlaws – who claimed both white-ball trophies last season.
The two sides are in action again on Sunday as Lancashire host Durham and Nottinghamshire welcome Northamptonshire to Trent Bridge.