Lancashire’s cricketers sealed top position in the NatWest T20 Blast North Division with a routine victory by 27 runs over Durham Jets at Emirates Old Trafford.
The Lightning won their sixth match in succession and their 10th of out of 14 in all as they completed their group campaign in comprehensive fashion thanks mainly to impressive performances from Usman Khawaja and Kyle Jarvis, both playing for the first time in Twenty20 this season.
Australian overseas batsman Khawaja, playing in place of the rested Tom Smith, top scored with 44 off 25 balls in a competitive 164 for eight, although the hosts should have posted more on a typically abrasive Old Trafford surface.
Durham’s reply never got going as they ended their away involvement in the competition with a whimper, despite an impressive comeback with the ball after Khawaja and Ashwell Prince had got Lancashire off to a flyer with an opening stand of 84 in 7.1 overs, their best of the season.
Jarvis led a much-changed Lightning bowling attack, minus Junaid Khan and Andrew Flintoff, with two for 25 from four overs as Durham finished with 137 for seven. Phil Mustard top-scored with 49.
Khawaja and Prince (43) took advantage of some poor leg-side bowling before Durham, led by their experienced West Indian off-spinner Gareth Breese, improved with some effect to restrict Lancashire to a total within reach.
The wicket of Prince, bowled by Breese with the first ball of the eighth over, was the first of five to fall for 23 runs in 32 balls as the Lightning slipped to 107 for five in the 13th.
Breese struck three times for 19 in four overs while his partner in crime Paul Collingwood finished with two for 21.
Khawaja was strong playing to leg before he holed out to deep mid-wicket off Breese in the 10th, having hit seven boundaries.
Steven Croft’s 31 off 28, including the only six of the innings, helped to get Lancashire moving again but three late wickets, including two for the medium pace of Keaton Jennings, ensured there was not too much damage done.
Durham’s reply got off to a slow start at eleven without loss after three as Croft, Kabir Ali and Jarvis all bowled tight overs.
That pressure paid off in the fourth over when Scott Borthwick chipped Wayne White to mid-off with the score on 12.
Jarvis struck in the next when Calum MacLeod found mid-on as Durham fell to 25 for two on their way to a powerplay score of 27 for two, a score in stark contrast to Lancashire at the same stage.
Michael Richardson was caught behind off Croft in the eighth over before Durham reached halfway at 49 for three with another 116 still needed.
Collingwood miscued and skied Jarvis to point as Durham fell to 66 for four in the 13th before Mustard holed out to deep backward square leg against Ali with the last ball of the 17th.
Durham, at 108 for five, needed 57 off the last three and Ali struck twice in the last as he comfortably defended 35 and finished with three for 19 himself