Derbyshire struck by Lightning
Lancashire secured themselves a home quarter-final in the NatWest T20 Blast with a convincing 35-run defeat of Derbyshire at Emirates Old Trafford on Friday evening.
After skipper Paul Horton had opted to bat first, the home side's top order enjoyed themselves against Wayne Madsen's attack, amassing 225 for 7, the highest total in a T20 game at Old Trafford and also the most Derbyshire have ever conceded in the format.
Both Ashwell Prince and Karl Brown made fifties before the Lancashire bowlers then restricted Derbyshire to 190 for seven, despite Madsen's 45 and Marcus North's 41.
Lancashire's batting carried all the hallmarks of a side used to piling up formidable totals in T20 cricket. Despite losing Tom Smith, caught at deep square leg by Greg Cork off Mark Turner, for 13, the Lightning batsmen settled into a pattern of taking ten runs an over off a Falcons attack that had to defend a short boundary on the Stretford side of the ground.
Leading the charge was Prince, who became the third Lancashire batsman this season to score a fifty off a county-record 22 balls when he smashed Wes Durston for his fourth six in a blistering assault on the visitors' attack.
Prince's partner in an 89-run second-wicket stand off 7.2 overs was Brown, who played something of a supporting role until the South African batsman skied spinner North to Durston and departed for a 29-ball 56.
Thereafter Brown took a more dominant role and reached his own fifty off 30 balls as he and Jos Buttler ran the Derbyshire attack ragged in the middle overs of the innings.
However, the Lightning innings lost a little momentum after Brown was caught at deep mid-wicket by Durston off Cork for 58 off 34 balls and the home side lost five wickets in 22 balls as they slumped from 158 for two to 190 for seven.
That, though, was only the prelude to a late assault on debutant Ben Cotton and Turner by Paul Horton who hit three sixes in an unbeaten 24 off only seven balls. Turner was still the most successful Derbyshire bowler with three for 51 from his four overs.
The Falcons batsmen began their reply as if determined to prove they were no slouches in the six-hitting stakes. Durston whacked three maximums and a couple of fours in his 20-ball 30 before he skied Junaid Khan to Wayne White at mid-wicket to end an opening stand of 55 in 5.5 overs with North.
Former Lancashire wicket-keeper Gareth Cross then made 17 off 10 deliveries before being run out by an accurate throw from deep cover by Smith after a mix-up with North.
Having reached 97 for two at the midpoint of their innings, Derbyshire had a reasonable platform for a late assault but their run chase lost a little momentum against the off-spin of Steven Croft, who had North lbw for 41.
The experienced Lancashire attack applied pressure over the last 10 overs as Derbyshire lost wickets regularly as they attempted to accelerate. The visitors needed 78 off their final five overs but found a required run-rate of 15 an over to be far too demanding.
Most of the Lancashire attack enjoyed success but the most impressive bowler was, once again, Khan who marked his final appearance in the T20 this season by taking two for 30. White also took two wickets, removing the dangerous Madsen, caught at deep mid-wicket by Smith in the 16th over, to end Derbyshire's hopes of victory.