sport

Lightning beat Bears to stay top

Lancashire celebrated the news of Andrew Flintoff's imminent return to their team with a 15-run win over Birmingham Bears in the T20 Blast.

The hosts - for whom it has been confirmed Flintoff will be making a playing comeback in this tournament, which could happen next week - posted 126 all out after winning the toss and opting to bat, with opener Tom Smith top-scoring with 44 off 27 balls.

They then bowled out their opponents for 111 as Junaid Khan claimed four wickets, Lancashire securing a fourth straight win and strengthening their position at the top of the North Group.

Paul Horton's side made a solid enough start with the bat before three quick wickets saw them reduced to 72 for five.

Key man Smith was the middle one of those, caught by Ateeq Javid off the bowling of Jeetan Patel, who finished with figures of three for 15.

But Andrea Agathangelou (21) helped the home side put on 30 for the sixth wicket.

His partner Jordan Clark was then ousted and three more wickets swiftly followed with only seven runs being added, Agathangelou the last of those victims to go with Lancashire on 109.

Khan was the last man out, and then made the biggest impact of the evening with the ball.

It was his delivery that brought about the Bears' first dismissal as William Porterfield walked with his side on 29, and that soon became 34 for four.

Khan subsequently saw off the away side's top run-maker Laurie Evans (29), Keith Barker (golden duck) and Javid in successive wickets to leave them on 106 for eight in the 19th over, by which stage the task was clearly too much for them to pull off.

Requiring 20 runs for victory from the last six balls, Birmingham lost two more wickets as their first proper outing in the competition this season - after a wash-out in their first fixture - concluded in disappointment.