Lancashire openers runs riot Flintoff proves fitness
Atherton (above) and Ganguly plunder unhappy Essex
Photo © CricInfo
Mike Atherton (70) and Saurav Ganguly (97) laid the basis of Lancashire's victory by 68 runs over Essex in their NatWest Trophy fourth-round match by putting on 163 runs in 39 overs for the first wicket. It followed their similar stand of 193 against Lincolnshire in the preceding round.
Atherton, as if inspired by his innings in the Test Match at Lord's, was the more aggressive early on and reached his third consecutive half-century in the competition. When his partner was bowled by Mark Ilott, Ganguly, who hit four sixes and fell just three runs short of what would have been his second successive NatWest hundred in an innings of 119 balls, led the way to Lancashire reaching a seemingly impregnable 251-5.
He was caught, appropriately, in the deep, but had done enough to win the Man-of-the-Match nomination. Andrew Flintoff flogged the demoralised Essex bowlers for a further 43 from 29 balls - and later bowled enough to take 2-21 to prove his fitness for the NatWest Series matches at the weekend.
It was Flintoff who broke Essex' promising opening partnership of 62 in 17 overs between Stuart Law and Paul Prichard (26) by dismissing the latter l.b.w After that Essex were never in the hunt as wickets started to fall regularly. Allrounder Danny Law (45) played a seemingly lone hand as a procession of partners failed to last the distance. Chris Schofield (4-34) was the main beneficiary. The innings ended at 183 runs in 43rd over.