Davies has a Blast as Lancashire stretch lead with win at Northampton

Alex Davies steered Lancashire to victory in Northamptonshire
Alex Davies steered Lancashire to victory in Northamptonshire
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Alex Davies led Lancashire home with a season’s best unbeaten 75 in a simple chase of 158 to beat Northamptonshire by eight wickets at Wantage Road.

The dreadful weather that affected much of the UK throughout Wednesday surprisingly left Northampton by mid-afternoon and Lancashire took advantage to extend their lead at the top of the North Group of the Vitality Blast to five points with four matches remaining.

Davies had been short of form in the competition but got the chase off to a perfect start with three consecutive boundaries off Ben Sanderson. He then swept Graeme White’s final ball of the seventh over, one of eight boundaries in his seventh T20 fifty, this in 38 balls.

As ever, Davies’ running between the wickets was sublime and demoralised Northants with many scampered twos, showing tremendous awareness of the field. Later in the chase, captain Dane Vilas joined in the dashing, taking two straight to third man in what proved to be the final over.

Vilas, like Steven Croft before him, arrived after Northants had been offered a little hope and immediately kept the chase right on track with clever batting. Vilas struck the winning boundary through the legs of Alex Wakely at deep square as Lancashire waltzed home with nine balls to spare.

Liam Livingstone played his part with 22 in 10 balls, slamming Nathan Buck’s first ball over long-on for six and carving a boundary over cover before holing out to deep midwicket. Croft made a run-a-ball 27, showing great wrists to work the bowling around, before being yorked by Faheem Ashraf. The Pakistani did his job again for Northants but was the only bowler who threatened.

Northants fell to a fourth defeat but still remain in the mix for qualification with five games to play. Here, having been sent in, their 157 for 7 always looked short.

Richard Levi pulled and flicked James Faulkner for two boundaries in the opening over and then pulled Saqib Mahmood for a a third four but trying to flick Faulkner as he changed ends, got a leading edge to third man to fall for 18. Josh Cobb then dragged his sixth ball to deep square to fall for a duck as Northants finished the Powerplay on 41 for 2.

Adam Rossington provided some momentum. He pulled his first ball for four and whipped Danny Lamb wide of deep square to end the 10th over with another boundary as Northants reached 69 for 2 at half-way. But trying to target Livingstone’s leg-spin, picked out long-on and fell for 40 in 32 balls.

The home side then ate up too many balls in the middle overs and were 104 for 4 after 16 overs.

Finally Northants broke the shackles as Dwaine Pretorius swung Matt Parkinson over long-on and deep midwicket for sixes in the penultimate over and Rob Keogh also cleared the fence as 29 runs came in overs 17, 18 and 19. But Faulkner went for only four, and took two wickets, in the final set and Lancashire’s batsmen backed the effort up in some style.