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Livingstone allows sad Durham no release

Lancashire 174 for 5 (Livingstone 61, Croft 35*, McLaren 32*, Pringle 3-30) beat Durham 143 for 8 (Steel 37, Clark 3-36) by 31 runs

A career-best T20 innings of 61 by Liam Livingstone and some tight leg-spin bowling by Matthew Parkinson guided Lancashire to a somewhat routine 31-run victory over Durham at Emirates Old Trafford.

The victory was Lancashire's third in six games but left Durham with only four defeats to show for their efforts in this season's competition. Paul Coughlin's side remain on -4 points thanks to the ECB's sanction last October and their chances of qualifying from the North Group are already very slim.

In truth the margin of victory seemed larger than 31 runs; there was hardly any point in the visitors' innings when they looked up in control of their pursuit and Lancashire will have to overcome rather more severe tests than that provided by last year's NatWest T20 Blast finalists if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals.

The highlight of Lancashire's innings for most in the crowd was probably Liam Livingstone's fifty, which included a couple of sixes off Chris Rushworth, a painful blow on the forearm from the same bowler and a quartet of fours.

However, the most effective home batting was produced in the last six overs when Ryan McLaren and Steven Croft put on an unbroken 64 for the sixth wicket, a partnership which hoisted Lancashire to a better than par total.

Both batsmen hit sixes off Paul Coughlin's final over of the innings and McLaren's 32 off 18 balls reinforced the view that he has been one of his new county's shrewder acquisitions.

But Lightning's progress had initially been checked by the loss of three wickets in the opening nine overs of their innings. The departure which disappointed the crowd the most was that of Jos Buttler, who was caught at backward point by the Durham debutant Gareth Harte off Ryan Pringle for only four.

The England batsman's dismissal followed that of Karl Brown, brilliantly caught by a diving Harte off Chris Rushworth for eight, and Arron Lilley, who was pouched by the wicketkeeper, Stuart Poynter off Coughlin for 12.

However, Durham's pleasure at making these early breakthroughs was dulled a little by the shoulder injury suffered by Adam Hickey, who was forced to leave the field when just failing to complete a diving catch off Lilley.

Pringle had Livingstone leg before in the twelfth over when playing a rather ugly sweep and the off spinner also dismissed Dane Vilas to finish with 3 for 30. But McLaren and Croft ensured that Lancashire posted a defendable total with Croft finishing on 35 not out.

Durham's reply began with a flurry of boundaries from Graham Clark, two of which were struck off his brother Jordan, but the Durham opener was eventually caught at cover by Livingstone off McLaren for 24.

The introduction of Matthew Parkinson brought immediate success when the legspinner had Harte leg before for 11 but Cameron Steel and Jack Burnham were maintaining the momentum of the pursuit before Burnham was bowled by Clark's excellent slower ball.

With nine overs remaining Durham still needed 97 to win and their hopes of achieving this goal were hit when Jordan Clark removed Cameron Steel for 37 and Paul Collingwood for four in the same over.

Clark finished with three for 36 and Parkinson added the wicket of Stuart Poynter to end with two for 23 as Durham's reply ran out of resources.