Pettini and Shah keep final chance alive
Essex 258 for 4 beat Lancashire 257 for 4 by six wickets
Essex Eagles won a thrilling Clydesdale Bank 40 clash against Lancashire at Old Trafford by six wickets with two balls to spare thanks in the main to century-maker Mark Pettini and Owais Shah.
It meant Essex kept their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive as they chased down 258, all but ending their opponents' last-four hopes in the process. Essex always had wickets in hand as they chased but Lancashire's bowlers squeezed well in the field to leave the visitors needing 114 off 66 balls with eight wickets in hand.
Pettini and Shah, however, shared 111 in 14 overs for the third wicket, punishing Sajid Mahmood, Oliver Newby and Steven Croft's offspin in particular. Pettini finished with 104 off 101 balls and Shah 75 off 56, hitting a combined total of 12 fours and three sixes.
This was Lancashire's first defeat in 12 one-day matches in both competitions but they were the team in the ascendancy at the halfway stage thanks to Karl Brown's maiden one-day hundred. After James Foster had elected to bowl, Lancashire calmly built a platform on a good pitch as opener Stephen Moore scored 69 off 67 balls.
He shared 84 for the third wicket with Brown before the latter and Gareth Cross (58 not out off 51 balls) added an unbroken 119 for the fifth wicket inside the last 15 overs of the innings. They also wreaked havoc in the last six overs, amassing a whopping 80 runs.
Cross hit Graham Napier for two leg-side sixes, both parried over the fence by Chris Wright and Adam Wheater, and he and Brown reached their respective milestones in the last over, bowled by left-arm spinner Tim Phillips and costing 19. Brown finished on 101 not out off 86 balls, including 10 fours and a six.
Ravi Bopara, fresh from the Edgbaston Test, took the two wickets of Croft and Moore with his medium pace. And he played a part in the Essex chase with 39 off 53 balls, sharing 88 inside 17 overs for the second wicket with Pettini.
Despite the fact the Eagles, now level on 13 points with second-placed Nottinghamshire after 10 matches, had wickets in hand, they were dropping further and further behind by rate. But Pettini and Shah reduced the target of 114 off 66 balls at its toughest to nine off the last over with some power hitting and good running as the home attack unusually lost their way.
Gary Keedy and Newby got rid of Pettini, stumped by Cross, and Shah, caught at cover by Tom Smith, within the last three overs. But it was not enough as Ryan ten Doeschate hit the winning runs to delight the home dressing room.