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July 31, 2011
Lancashire 294 for 6 beat Gloucestershire 290 for 7 by four wickets
Paul Horton hit 97 to guide Lancashire to a dramatic four-wicket victory over Gloucestershire in a high-scoring Clydesdale Bank 40 contest at Cheltenham. His excellent innings keeps alive his side's outside chance of qualifying from Group C.
Chasing 291 for victory, Lancashire were also indebted to Tom Smith and big-hitting Oliver Newby, who smashed 77 and 35 not out respectively. But it was Horton's 90-ball innings that made the difference, the Australian-born batsman finishing unbeaten just three runs short of his hundred as Lancashire won with just 11 balls to spare.
Alex Gidman, Chris Taylor and Ian Cockbain earlier contributed quick-fire half centuries as Gloucestershire won the toss and posted an imposing 290 for 4 on a typically flat Cheltenham pitch. Eager to stamp his authority from the outset, skipper Gidman took full advantage of the fielding restrictions to register eight fours as Lancashire's bowlers struggled to find their line and length.
He added 76 in 10 overs with fellow opener Hamish Marshall and a further 74 with New Zealander Kane Williamson before Simon Kerrigan forced an error and he was caught at the wicket for an 82-ball 76. When Williamson offered a return catch to Stephen Parry in the very next over, Gloucestershire were 154 for 3 in the 24th over.
Much to the delight of a crowd of more than 4,000, Taylor and Cockbain maintained the scoring rate with a partnership of 86 in 12 overs for the fourth wicket. Thoroughly enjoying his experience in the wake of scoring 196 in a winning cause against Kent here 10 days earlier, Taylor cut and pulled fluently to raise 55 from 42 balls.
Although he holed out to deep cover in the 36th over, Cockbain and Ireland World Cup star Kevin O'Brien ensured there was no respite for Lancashire's flagging attack in an unbroken fifth wicket partnership that yielded 50 in four overs.
Gloucestershire must have fancied their chances when Stephen Moore and Steven Croft departed without troubling the scorers in the first over. Moore was held at first slip off Ian Saxelby and Croft was brilliantly run out by O'Brien's throw from mid-on in pursuit of a risky single.
When Karl Brown played down the wrong line and was bowled by left-arm seamer David Payne for 27, the visitors were 52 for 3 and under pressure. Uninhibited by what was going on around him, Smith continued to play his shots, accruing 11 fours and raising 108 with Horton for the fourth wicket to put his side back into contention.
He had scored 77 from 62 balls and was threatening to win the game when he pushed at a delivery of full length from O'Brien and fell to a sharp catch behind by Batty, who was standing up. Lancashire required 86 off the final 10 overs and Gareth Cross went on the offensive, lifting Saxelby over the pavilion for six and Oliver Newby, a former Gloucestershire loan signing, crashed 16 runs off three balls in the 37th over to spoil Payne's figures as Lancashire closed in.
Newby put the outcome beyond doubt, smashing a competition-best 35 not out from just 16 balls, including 4 fours and 2 sixes. But it was Horton's well-timed innings, which included nine fours, which ensured victory.
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