By Dave Clark at Emirates Old Trafford
Kabir Ali returned to haunt former club Hampshire Royals as Lancashire Lightning inflicted only a third Yorkshire Bank 40 defeat on the defending champions to send the race for Group B down to the wire.
The home side made 261 for nine after winning the toss, and it proved just beyond a depleted Hampshire – who came up five runs short as they failed to reach a target for only the second time in 14 limited-over run-chases this season.
Kabir and Arron Lilley were the heroes with three wickets apiece, after Dimitri Mascarenhas earlier claimed a five-wicket haul for the Royals.
Tom Smith fell early in the Lancashire innings when he skied Mascarenhas to midwicket, but the hosts put on 57 for the second wicket through Stephen Moore and Ashwell Prince.
When Prince was bowled by one that kept low from Mascarenhas for 17, his partner went soon after to 16-year-old debutant Brad Taylor, who was in for Danny Briggs as part of a visiting side missing three players to England Lions duty and Sohail Tanvir to Pakistan.
Off-spinner Taylor had Adam Wheater to thank, the wicketkeeper taking a superb catch off a bottom edge as Moore departed for 51.
Simon Katich made his first-class debut before Taylor was born and looked in good nick for his 22 before being caught at mid-on off a bowler 21 years his junior.
Karl Brown and Steven Croft then shared an excellent partnership of 95, which was enhanced by some superb running between the wickets.
There was big hitting too, both men dispatching Sean Ervine over the ropes when the Zimbabwean dropped short.
Brown fell in the 36th over as he sent a towering catch to Jimmy Adams at cover off Mascarenhas, having accrued 66, and the all-rounder bowled Gareth Cross and Arron Lilley to complete his first one-day five-wicket haul for 11 years; the ex-England man finishing with 5-42 before running out Kabir.
David Griffiths had Croft well caught by Sean Terry at deep midwicket for 65 from 66 balls in the final over, but Lancashire’s total looked imposing even for a side with Hampshire’s chasing credentials.
With their usually explosive opening pair of Michael Carberry and James Vince on Lions duty, the visitors went with inexperienced pair Terry and Michael Roberts at the top of the order and, while they lacked the power of the regular openers, they skilfully compiled 50 for the first wicket before Roberts was caught at mid-on off Glen Chapple for 25.
Terry made 33 before being stumped in unlikely fashion by Cross off Lilley, but skipper Adams and Neil McKenzie looked to have the chase under control until the former picked out long-on off Croft for a run-a-ball 44, and while Ervine played himself in the required rate crept over 10.
Ervine and McKenzie responded with 13 off Croft’s 29th over and, having brought a fifty partnership up off 44 balls, Ervine was dropped by Moore on the cover boundary.
With 62 needed form six overs, Lilley struck a double blow as he had McKenzie stumped for 65 off 54 balls and Liam Dawson caught by Cross attempting a reverse sweep with the next ball, the spinner finishing with 3-37.
Moore’s drop looked crucial as Ervine raced to 43 from 36 balls and when he picked out Croft in Kabir’s 38th over, Mascarenhas and Wheater kept Hampshire in the hunt – a hauled six over midwicket from Mascarenhas off former teammate Kabir the highlight.
But the ex-England seamer had his revenge in the final over, removing Mascarenhas and Wheater with full-tosses to finished with 3-63.
Hampshire remain top of Group B but must now beat Derbyshire Falcons in their final game to progress as group winners, while Lancashire require a result against Essex Eagles to capitalise on any slip-up.