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Lightning surge towards last eight

By Chris Devine at Emirates Old Trafford

Lancashire Lightning took a giant step towards the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals with an eight-wicket thrashing of Roses rivals Yorkshire Vikings.

A combination of canny bowling and tigerish fielding - highlighted by Steven Croft’s sensational diving catch at long-on to account for Gary Ballance - restricted Yorkshire to a modest 124 for eight after Azeem Rafiq had chosen to bat.

That total proved well within the reach of the Lightning, who stormed home with nine overs unused on the back of a powerful opening stand of 88 between Stephen Moore and Tom Smith.

The latter contributed 42 off 22 deliveries and Moore - responsible for 37 of his team’s first 39 runs - finished unbeaten on 66 from 35, having finished the contest in fitting fashion with a straight six.

Lancashire now top the North Group and will qualify for the last eight on Friday should Derbyshire Falcons fail to overcome Leicestershire Foxes. Even if Derbyshire do prevail, Peter Moores’ men can guarantee their progression by avoiding defeat against Notts Outlaws on Sunday.

The margin of this win - which provided a stark contrast to the tied reverse fixture at Headingley - means Lancashire could well progress even if they are beaten in their final group game, given their impressive net run-rate.

Yorkshire’s total this evening was soon exposed as inadequate when Moore got the home reply off to a flying start.

Punishing on the pull and similarly strong when advancing to hit through cover, the opener dominated the first four overs and then saw partner Smith get in on the act with two boundaries off Adil Rashid - a reverse-swept four and glorious straight six.

There was further carnage to come, Smith swinging Liam Plunkett’s first delivery - in an over costing 17 - high into the top tier of the stand at wide long-on before collecting another maximum off Rashid.

By the time Smith was stumped off Rafiq the game was over as a contest, although Adam Lyth produced a catch to rival Croft’s when diving to his left at cover to complete a one-handed grab that sent Ashwell Prince back for a second-ball duck.

The loss of two wickets in quick succession did nothing to slow Lancashire’s progress and Moore’s winning blow - a crisp strike down the ground off Jack Leaning - represented an astonishing 22nd boundary for the hosts in 11 overs.

Yorkshire were never able to get going with the bat as the home fielders backed up their attack with tremendous energy and athleticism.

Simon Kerrigan, who received his county cap prior to the start of play, accepted catches in the off-side ring to account for Joe Sayers and Dan Hodgson in a powerplay that brought just 23 runs.

The introduction of spin initially proved expensive, Lyth and Gary Ballance combining to strike 30 in three overs.

Yet Lancashire were soon back in the ascendancy as Lyth, on 32, paddled a slower ball to short fine-leg and became Smith’s second victim.

Having been beaten by the previous delivery, Leaning fell for four when dragging a short ball from Kerrigan onto his stumps from outside off.

Rashid injected much-needed impetus with two sixes only to depart following a mix-up between the wickets, while Ballance fell victim to Croft’s tremendous take off Arron Lilley, which saw the fielder dive forward to claim the ball inches from the turf.

Mitchell McClenaghan, who returned 2-19 to trump Smith’s 2-21, accounted for Plunkett and Rafiq was run out attempting to steal a bye as runs remained hard to come by in the closing overs of Yorkshire's innings.

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