T20 semi-final defeat for Lancashire

Keaton Jennings' undefeated half-century was in vain for Lancashire
Keaton Jennings' undefeated half-century was in vain for Lancashire
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Lancashire’s Vitality Blast campaign ended with a 20-run defeat against Worcestershire in the first of Saturday’s semi-finals at Edgbaston.

The Red Rose had opted to bowl first with skipper Liam Livingstone having bolstered his batting line-up with England Test pair Jos Buttler and Keaton Jennings.

Their international team-mate Moeen Ali captained the Pears, who named Brett D’Oliveira, Joe Clarke and Wayne Parnell in their XI after fitness tests.

Worcestershire reached 56-1 at the end of the six-over powerplay, with Moeen leading the charge.

He had 38 not out from his first 17 balls, taking a particular shine to Livingstone’s spin.

The Lancashire skipper’s solitary over cost 23, including the first six of the day as Moeen advanced and launched him back down the ground.

Australia’s James Faulkner hit back for the Red Rose, bowling Joe Clarke (5) but, at the end of the seventh over, the scoreboard was looking nice for Worcestershire at 65-1.

However, things took a dramatic turn with three wickets in as many balls.

Moeen was first to go ended when he mistimed a big shot off Zahir Khan, skying a catch to long-off to depart for 41.

Brett D’Oliveira followed in calamitous circumstances, fractionally short of his ground looking to complete a tight single and run out without facing.

That left a lot of work on Tom Fell’s shoulders, but from the very next delivery, the first of Matt Parkinson’s second over, he was stumped after smart work by Buttler.

That left the batting side 70-4 and firmly up against it but, with five overs remaining, Worcestershire had nudged along to 106-6.

Ross Whiteley and Daryl Mitchell had come and gone for single figure scores, the former losing his leg stump to Parkinson and the latter LBW to Jordan Clark.

Worcestershire belatedly found the partnership they needed, seventh-wicket duo Ben Cox and Ed Barnard adding an unbroken 72 to take them to 169-6.

Cox did the bulk of the lifting, his 55 in 34 deliveries built around an assault on Toby Lester in the penultimate over of the innings.

He thrashed three sixes in four balls as the over disappeared for an innings-high 27, with a fine reverse-sweep for four inbetween.

In reply, Lancashire lost opener Alex Davies to a silly run-out in the third over, while Livingstone faced an early struggle to find his timing.

He was still able to get the scoreboard moving, though, and hit an almighty six off Wayne Parnell as Lancashire’s powerplay score of 55-1 was one fewer than Worcestershire’s mark at the same stage.

Livingstone managed one more six before thick-edging Barnard to short third-man for 30, while Moeen struck with his fourth delivery of the day.

Arron Lilley was the man to go, LBW with an indifferent stroke across his front pad, leaving England duo Buttler and Jennings at the crease together on 67-3.

Moeen was bowling tightly and building the pressure on his international colleagues, culminating in a huge moment in the 12th over.

He fired one into Buttler, who looked to punch the ball away through the off-side but only succeeding in dragging the ball into his stumps.

One of the most dangerous hitters in world cricket was gone for 12 in 13 deliveries and Moeen was sitting on figures of 2-9 in three overs.

After Moeen’s spell ended with another tight over, signing off with 2-16 from his four overs, Lancashire required 44 from the last 24 balls to win.

Jennings was turning in a strong anchoring knock but Lancashire were still left needing 30 off the last two overs.

The spotlight duly passed to 19-year-old seamer Pat Brown when he was asked to deliver the 19th and stepped up in stunning fashion.

He took three wickets and conceded just one run, Faulkner, Lester and Parkinson all succumbing to a nerveless display as Brown ended with 4-21.

Jennings hit the second ball of the 20th over for six, and finished 51 not out, but it was not enough as Lancashire finished on 149-9.