Croft digs deep but Lancashire lose a thriller to Leicestershire
Captain Colin Ackermann led the charge as Leicestershire completed a sensational seven-wicket victory over Lancashire with just eight balls remaining in this Bob Willis Trophy opener at Worcester.
Ackermann finished on 73 not out off just 41 balls as the Foxes chased down their target of 150 off 17 overs, hitting 10 fours and a six.
Young left-hander Harry Dearden played an important role, hitting Lancashire strike bowler Tom Bailey for consecutive sixes over long-on before reverse-sweeping left-arm spinner Tom Hartley high over extra cover for another.
It was hard to take for a Lancashire side badly hit by England call-ups and injuries, and in particular Blackpool’s Steven Croft, who led a determined defensive effort to finish unbeaten on 52 from 185 balls as Lancashire were bowled out for 236 in their second innings.
Lancashire started the final day at New Road on 96-3, and Chris Wright soon found the inside edge of Rob Jones for George Rhodes to take a comfortable catch.
Captain Dave Vilas was joined by Croft and the two experienced batsmen dug in. It was beginning to look as though they could exceed their first-innings partnership of 130 but shortly before lunch the South African tried to steer a wide delivery from left-arm spinner Parkinson through point only to bottom- edge the ball into his stumps.
If that was fortuitous for Parkinson, his next wicket was anything but, George Balderson going back to a delivery which spun sharply back into the left-hander’s pads to dismiss him lbw.
Croft remained immoveable but the loss of Danny Lamb, lbw to Ben Mike, lifted Leicestershire spirits as they went in to tea with 32 overs remaining in the match.
Mike made it two in two balls by immediately producing a beauty to find the edge of Bailey’s bat, Swindells taking a brilliant one-handed catch.
Hartley fought hard before being leg before to an Ackermann delivery which turned, and Ed Moulton’s second duck of the match left the Foxes a target of almost nine an over.
Having hit 95 before being run out by his partner in the first innings, Ackermann played superbly to complete a personal return of 168 runs in the match.
He also took credit for two wickets and some outstanding captaincy on a pitch which offered the bowlers relatively little assistance.