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Firing Flintoff helps Lightning progress

Andrew Flintoff took three wickets as Lancashire Lightning clinched their place in the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast with victory over Leicestershire Foxes at Grace Road.

The 36-year-old former England all-rounder claimed 3-26 in the second match of his comeback to help Lancashire to an 18-run win, with the Foxes bowled out for 133 in 19.4 overs chasing a target of 152.

Steven Croft also took three wickets and the same amount of catches as Lancashire successfully defended a total of 151 for seven to secure their eighth victory of the North Group campaign.

The defeat virtually ended Leicestershire's slim chances of reaching the knockout stages of a competition they have won three times.

However, Josh Cobb did his best to keep those hopes alive. The Foxes captain top-scored with 60 off 51 balls before being caught on the cover boundary off Junaid Khan.

Cobb and Niall O'Brien had given the Foxes a solid start with 43 off the first five overs - but the introduction of Flintoff into the attack brought quick dividends.

There was a scare when he had to leave the field after diving to stop an edge from Cobb off the first ball of the Foxes innings but he returned with a plaster covering a cut on the little finger of his right hand.

In his second over the strapping paceman had O'Brien caught at deep square-leg by Ashwell Prince for 24.

Croft, who took 3-31, then put the Red Rose on top with three wickets in seven balls, bowling Greg Smith round his legs and having both Ned Eckersley and Matthew Boyce caught behind by Jos Buttler.

Cobb cracked two sixes and four fours but could find nobody to stay with him - and when Flintoff returned for a second spell and had both Scott Styris and Tom Wells superbly caught at long-on by Croft, the Foxes' chance of victory had gone. 

Prince top-scored for Lancashire with 41, including six fours, but it was an eighth-wicket stand of 37 in the last three overs between Jordan Clark and Kabir Ali that made the difference. 

Clark hit 20 off 16 balls and Kabir 19 off eight to take the Lightning to a competitive total on a slow-paced pitch.

Flintoff, batting for the first time in a T20 game since June 2009, was out for one off four balls, lbw to Cobb attempting to hit through midwicket.

There was a cameo innings from Buttler that brought him a quickfire 20 before he became one of Jigar Naik's three victims, the Foxes off-spinner finishing with 3-30.

But Lancashire were worthy winners in the end and Croft said: "It was a great team effort.

"We were a few runs light with the bat but turned things round with the ball."

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