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Group B rivals come up short

Lancashire Lightning and Essex Eagles both failed to reach the Yorkshire Bank 40 semi-finals as the visitors won a high-scoring contest at Emirates Old Trafford by 70 runs.

A superb 130 from England batsman Ravi Bopara underpinned the Eagles' imposing 297 for four, which the Lightning responded to with 227 all out inside 37 overs.

Tom Smith hit an excellent 84-ball 97 but the home side's task was too stiff. Tim Phillips nipped in with 5-42 from 7.4 overs as Lancashire lost their last eight wickets for 41 runs, slipping from 186 for two.

Bopara warmed up for England's two-match Twenty20 series against Australia later this week with his highest List A county score since June 2008, including nine fours and three sixes in 102 balls.

After James Foster elected to bat, Bopara and Greg Smith ensured an impressive recovery from the early loss of India international Gautam Gambhir as they shared 159 inside 23 overs for the second wicket.

Bopara hit Ashes-winning left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan, who was playing in the fifth Investec Test at the Kia Oval 24 hours earlier, for six over long-on in the 18th over before clubbing off-spinner Steven Croft straight down the ground for his second maximum.

He later hit his third off Kabir Ali over square-leg, taking 22 off the former England paceman in the 36th over of the innings, having brought up a 91-ball ton just two overs earlier.

After Kerrigan had Greg Smith stumped for 78 off 77 balls, Bopara shared 61 in 5.1 overs for the fourth wicket with Ryan ten Doeschate before top-edging Kyle Hogg to short third man in the search for quick runs.

Ten Doeschate also hit three sixes in 46 not out off 23, helping to take 76 runs off the last six overs.

Tom Smith and Stephen Moore gave Lancashire a good platform with an opening stand of 79 in 11 overs and, despite Reece Topley getting Moore caught at long-leg and bowling Ashwell Prince inside four overs, the hosts had wickets in hand.

An accumulative partnership of 95 for the third wicket between Smith and Paul Horton kept Lancashire in the hunt.

Yet things started to go downhill quickly once Smith was bowled by Topley to leave the score 186 for three after 29 overs.

Phillips had Horton, Croft, Karl Brown, Arron Lilley and Kerrigan all caught playing expansively. Horton was brilliantly held by a diving Bopara, running towards the sightscreen from long-on to start the run of wickets.

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