Warwickshire’s cricketers notched up their first victory of this season’s Royal London One-Day Cup after a thrilling last-gasp three-wicket win at the expense of Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford.
Varun Chopra’s 88, plus Tim Ambrose’ half-century at better than a run a ball laid the foundations for Warwickshire to reach their victory target of 266, but they still needed three fours in the final over from Ateeq Javid (32 not out) to seal victory with a solitary ball to spare.
Last year’s finalists had lost twice and gained a point from an abandonment in their other fixtures and managed to reduce their hosts to 265 for seven, Ashwell Prince and Alex Davies starring for the Red Rose, who were put into bat.
Lancashire were quickly on the back foot when Keith Barker tempted Karl Brown to edge behind in just the fifth over as the Lightning struggled for a foothold in the opening exchanges.
Salvation came in the usual shape of South Africa’s Prince, who brought his stunning first-class form into the shorter format with a typically belligerent innings that found its feet in the 10th over when the veteran opener pulled successive balls from Rikki Clarke to the leg side boundary for four then six.
Prince and fellow countryman Alviro Petersen put on 62 for the second wicket before the latter skied an on drive to the back-pedalling Keith Barker at mid-on for 22.
The setback made little difference to Prince who continued unheeded as he and Paul Horton proceeded to compile another crucial partnership of 75 until Horton was strangled down the leg side for 37 by Boyd Rankin.
Rankin had struggled early on but his second spell proved far more fruitful as Horton’s departure triggered a mini collapse.
Prince was the next to go, missing out on his century after edging the big Irishman behind for 82, and when skipper Steven Croft quickly followed in the same manner, Lancashire had lost three wickets for seven runs.
It was left to 20-year-old wicketkeeper Davies to restore some momentum into the innings with a knock full of improvisation which included one boundary off a one-handed backhand smash.
Davies (73no) and James Faulkner (20) added a valuable 79 before the close, but it was a target that looked well within Warwickshire’s reach, especially when Chopra and William Porterfield put on 64 for the opening wicket.
The introduction of left arm spinner Steven Parry proved vital as he removed Porterfield for 38 before former England Test player Jonathan Trott quickly departed following a poor shot off Faulkner.
Chopra and Ambrose, compiled a third wicket partnership of 102 to bring the visitors back into contention.
Ambrose fell lbw to Jarvis for 59 off 57 balls before the accurate Parry removed Clarke for five and then Croft bowled Laurie Evans for 11.
Chopra was finally dismissed in the 44th over 60 runs short of the target, but in a nail biting last over Ateeq Javid and Jeetan Patel (15no) kept their nerve as the former hit Tom Bailey for the winning boundary from the penultimate delivery of the match.
Ashley Giles, Lancashire cricket director and head coach, said: “There was a period there when they were cruising it, and then we got back in it and then we lost it.
“That has been the tale of many of our one-day games this year. Although we have qualified for the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast, we have had six games that have gone down to the last or second from last balls.
“It is disappointing. We still had a window to win it at the end.
“Ashwell gave us a great start and had a great partnership with Alviro. But then we lost our way in the middle and we needed a brilliant little cameo from Alex to smack it around and get us to a score.
“The wicket did improve, but we still thought we could defend that total.”