Lancashire squeeze out Sussex
Lancashire secured their place at Friends Life t20 finals day after an impressive bowling performance suffocated Sussex.
The visitors’ total of 152 for eight was slightly below average in t20 at the PROBIZ County Ground this season, but it proved more than enough against a Sussex side who badly missed the power hitting of injured England all-rounder Luke Wright.
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan made 34 from 27 balls but fell in the final over as Sussex lost by 20 runs under the floodlights - much to the disappointment of an increasingly subdued 6,500 full house.
Lancashire, meanwhile, had good reason to celebrate after losing three successive quarter-finals in this competition. This victory was their seventh in succession in the FLt20 this season.
Sussex’s reply got off to the worst possible start when Lou Vincent, playing against his former county, was caught behind off the second ball from Sajid Mahmood.
Ben Brown was bowled round his legs by Farveez Maharoof in the second over and, although Mahmood conceded 17 runs in his third over, Sussex lost a third wicket on 31 when Ed Joyce backed up too far and was run out by Stephen Moore’s underarm throw.
Chris Nash and Michael Yardy revived their hopes by adding 41 for the fourth wicket but Lancashire’s two left-arm spinners, Gary Keedy and Stephen Parry, bowled impressively as Sussex struggled to find the boundary.
The game turned decisively Lancashire’s way in the 12th over when Keedy struck twice in three balls. Nash was stumped for 31 after Keedy lured him down the track and Yardy was caught behind for 24 attempting a reverse-sweep.
A target of 80 off the last eight overs proved beyond Sussex despite some lusty hitting from Naved.
He struck two fours and two sixes but the required rate was always climbing and 28 off the final over was never going to be possible, especially when Junaid Khan returned to the attack to york his compatriot and then Ollie Rayner.
Lancashire were earlier indebted to Karl Brown, who hit four sixes and a four in his 44 off 31 balls, and Paul Horton, whose unbeaten 49 off 45 deliveries served as the anchor to an innings that was faltering at 45 for three.
Like Sussex, they lost a wicket to the second ball when Stephen Moore was caught behind cutting at off-spinner Ollie Rayner and Sussex continued to take wickets just when their opponents were threatening to build a big partnership.
Monty Panesar was the pick of the home attack with 1-15, including the wicket of Brown, who sliced to long-off as he advances to drive.
After his dismissal Lancashire struggled to accelerate towards the end of their innings, losing four wickets for 19 runs in the last four overs, but a disciplined bowling display and typically tigerish fielding saw them home.