All-round du Plessis takes Lancashire home
Lancashire 155 for 5 (du Plessis 57*) beat Nottinghamshire 151 for 7 (Voges 51) by five wickets
In a rather bland match at Trent Bridge, Lancashire beat Nottinghamshire comfortably by five wickets. Two fifties were scored, one on each side, and Francois du Plessis played a good all-round role for Lancashire.
In windy conditions, Nottinghamshire won the toss and decided to bat. Their innings was built on a sound second-wicket partnership of 57 between Adam Voges (51) and Samit Patel (31 off 20 balls), that had them quite well placed at 69 for 2 when Patel fell in the tenth over. His best shot was a six over extra cover, into the strong wind, off Kyle Hogg.
Chris Cairns began his innings with a thick edge for four but did not settle; he made 8 before he was caught at deep midwicket by fellow New Zealander Lou Vincent, who was in action again later in the over when a superb return from the deep ran out Chris Read for 2.
Voges went to his 50 off 41 balls, but was out next ball, holing out to Andrew Flintoff on the midwicket boundary. Most of the runs after that came from Mark Ealham, who hammered 28 off 21 balls, including two sixes. With two overs to go, Notts had only 122 for 5 but Ealham took them past 150 before being caught at long-off from the final delivery. The fielder, again, was Vincent, but he juggled the ball three times before holding it - catching was not easy in such a wind and the fielders held some very good high ones.
As so often in this competition, the most successful and economical bowlers were the spinners, Simon Marshall taking 3 for 27, including Ealham in his four overs, and du Plessis 1 for 13 in three. Again Flintoff did not bowl, and had not been expected to.
Lancashire were all Mal Loye at the start. He swung Darren Pattinson over square leg for six in the second over and raced onwards, taking his team to 41 for 1 in five overs - the wicket being Vincent to a superb leg-side stumping for 4. But then Loye tried a reverse sweep and skied a catch to backward point, having made 32 off 23 balls.
This slowed the scoring rate and after ten overs Lancashire were 70 for 2, one ahead of Notts at that stage. But Stuart Law and du Plessis produced the good partnership that the home team did not have, and they drew ahead again. When Law fell for 33, this brought in Flintoff.
He showed understandable signs of nerves at first, being close to lbw and then run out off the first ball he faced. A thunderous straight drive for four will remain in the memory, but then he drove at Rob Ferley and was bowled for 13, off nine balls.
All this time du Plessis had been chugging along at a good rate but somehow without great charisma - his 50 came off 33 balls, and his eventual unbeaten 57 contained seven fours and a six, yet somehow this valuable player does not quite capture the imagination. He did deservedly capture the Man-of-the-Match award, though. Lancashire were home with four balls to spare, but it was the expected result, without excitement. Andre Adams and Ealham took two wickets each, though Ferley was again the most economical with 1 for 23 off his four overs.