Lancashire v Leicestershire, NatWest T20 Blast, North Group, Old Trafford May 15, 2015

Croft seals final-ball chase for Lancashire

ECB/PA

Lancashire 142 for 5 (Croft 70*) beat Leicestershire 131 for 7 (O'Brien 47, Edwards 4-20)
Scorecard

Steven Croft celebrates after hitting a final-ball boundary to win the match © Getty Images

Steven Croft helped Lancashire get their NatWest T20 Blast campaign off to a successful start with an unbeaten 70 as they claimed a last-ball five-wicket Duckworth-Lewis win over Leicestershire.

Heavy rain interrupted the Foxes' innings for 80 minutes but the visitors still managed to make 131 for 7 from their 15 overs with Kevin O'Brien making 47 on his Leicestershire debut.

Lancashire fast bowler George Edwards responded by taking 4 for 20 on his first appearance for the club, all of his wickets being taken in the former Surrey man's last 12 balls at a cost of seven runs.

The Duckworth-Lewis calculation left Lancashire needing 140 to win and the home managed this off the sixth ball of the 15th over when Croft cut Ben Raine to the backward point boundary

In the 41 minutes of play that was possible before rain forced the players from the field, Leicestershire progressed to 105 for 2 off 11.2 overs with Kevin O'Brien making 43 not out off 23 balls and Grant Elliott contributing an unbeaten 17 off 20.

The innings had been opened in enterprising fashion by Ned Eckersley and Mark Cosgrove, who scored 21 off the first two overs before Cosgrove was dismissed for 12 when his attempt to work Tom Bailey through third man only gave an edge to wicketkeeper Alex Davies.

Eckersley and Kevin O'Brien continued to profit from any wayward bowling, pulling sixes off consecutive overs from Jordan Clark and Bailey as the second-wicket pair added 42 in four overs.

Lancashire skipper Croft then claimed the vital wicket of Eckersley for a 14-ball 29 when the Foxes opener pulled him straight to Karl Brown at midwicket.

However, New Zealand's World Cup batsman Grant Eliott helped O'Brien maintain the momentum of the innings against a Lancashire attack dominated by the spin of Croft, Arron Lilley and Stephen Parry.

When the players returned, Leicestershire lost three wickets for four runs in seven balls with Parry having Elliott caught by Ashwell Prince without addition before Edwards removed both O'Brien and Rob Taylor in the space of three balls.

Clint McKay and Vince Wells then took 14 runs off Bailey's final over before Edwards dismissed both for 10 apiece, McKay being caught at long-off by Alviro Petersen and Wells being taken by Prince at long-on.

In Lancashire's innings all the batsmen made starts but none could go on to and play the major innings their team required until Croft and Davies came together

Prince top-edged a catch to wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien when cramped for room by Raine on 8 and Karl Brown had added only 10 when he skied McKay to Cosgrove running in from cover.

Debutant Liam Livingstone departed for 15 off 12 balls when he skied Wells to Taylor at long-on and Petersen was comfortably caught by Taylor off Jigar Naik for 10.

That left Lancashire on 57 for four off 7.1 overs and Lancashire needed from 79 off the final seven overs. Croft hit the first six of the innings off Naik in the 10th over as he and Davies played some authentic attacking cricket shots which put their side's pursuit back on track.

The pair's 50 partnership was reached off 30 balls and Croft got to his own half-century off exactly the same number, with four fours and a six.

Some desperate hitting and inventive strokeplay left Lancashire needing 10 to win off the final over and they reached their target despite Davies being run out for 24 to end his vital 73-run fifth-wicket stand with Croft.

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