Steelbacks show mettle to defeat Lancashire in Blast

Ricardo Vasconcelos top-scored again as Northamptonshire Steelbacks reignited their Vitality Blast campaign with a second successive victory, overcoming Lancashire Lightning by seven wickets.

Saturday, 26th June 2021, 8:00 am

The left-hander, who had scored an unbeaten 78 in the Steelbacks’ success at Durham two days earlier, struck 41 from 38 balls to help his side chase down a modest target of 131 with 10 balls to spare.

Mohammad Nabi and Rob Keogh completed Northamptonshire’s triumph with an unbroken stand of 54 from 40.

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Steven Croft did his utmost to keep Lancashire moving at Northamptonshire
Steven Croft did his utmost to keep Lancashire moving at Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire remain bottom of the North Group despite their victory, while Lightning have now gone four matches without a win.

Ben Sanderson appeared to have made an early breakthrough after Lancashire had opted to bat, inducing an edge from Finn Allen – only for Vasconcelos to drop a routine slip catch.

However, the fielder made amends by scooping up a far harder chance at midwicket to remove Keaton Jennings and, when Sanderson’s slower ball bamboozled Allen and uprooted his middle stump, Lightning were wobbling at 23 for two.

Dane Vilas and Alex Davies began rebuilding with a steady partnership of 37 until the latter slapped Brandon Glover’s first ball into the hands of mid-off – and Rob Jones departed two deliveries later, run out by Tom Taylor’s superb pinpoint throw from long leg.

Danny Lamb did his best to lift Lancashire with some improvised shots taking him to 20 from 12 balls but, when he miscued Wayne Parnell to mid-off, it was left to Steven Croft to hold the innings together.

Croft eventually finished unbeaten on 35 from 37 balls, with Parnell taking two for 28 and spinners Nabi and Graeme White – who collected the 100th T20 wicket of his career by dismissing Vilas – yielding just 43 from their combined eight overs.

Saqib Mahmood, making his first Blast appearance of the season following an abdominal injury, raised Lightning hopes by removing Adam Rossington in the fourth over, with Jones holding the catch above his head at cover.

But Vasconcelos looked assured and, despite taking a glancing blow to the helmet from Luke Wood, he proved himself unharmed by striking Lamb for successive boundaries in the next over.

He and Parnell put on 49 from 43 balls although, when both departed in quick succession, there was just a hint of a Steelbacks wobble at 77 for three.

Nabi dispelled those concerns by hitting Mahmood for three fours in an over and he and Keogh, who struck Matt Parkinson for the only six of the innings, saw their side home, finishing on 27 and 25 not out respectively.

Lancashire captain Dane Vilas said: “We did what we wanted in that we won the toss and batted, but I don’t think we got enough runs on the board. We lost wickets at the wrong times and weren’t able to cash in.

“We knew it was quite a difficult pitch and it was hard to hit the ball down the ground, but we were probably about 20 runs short.

“We’re close to playing good cricket in all facets of the game – batting, bowling and fielding – so it’s disappointing that we haven’t strung performances together. That’s something we need to look at.

“You don’t want to leave it too late, we need to start winning again and we’ve got some big games coming up. Hopefully we can turn our T20 season around and find some form at the right time.”

Fifth-placed Lightning visit group leaders Nottinghamshire Outlaws on Saturday.

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