Ackermann leads the Foxes to the Quarter-Finals
BLAST 10 | Leicestershire Foxes 154 for five vs Lancashire Lightning 132 for five. Leicestershire Foxes win by 22 runs.
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
POINTS | Lancashire Lightning 0, Leicestershire Foxes 2.
REPORT | Leicestershire Foxes booked their passage through to the Vitality Blast quarter-finals for the first time since 2017 with a comprehensive victory over Lancashire Lightning at Emirates Old Trafford.
Colin Ackermann bowled a match changing over in the sixteenth, claiming three wickets to lead the Running Foxes to back-to-back victories to conclude the group stage fixtures.
The Foxes made the trip to Emirates Old Trafford for the final North group match of the Vitality Blast season to face Lancashire Lightning. This was a must-win match for the Foxes to keep their qualification hopes alive with attention on Durham’s result in the North Group as well as the outcome of the Birmingham Bears v Northamptonshire Steelbacks and Gloucestershire v Somerset fixtures in the Central Group.
The Foxes Head Coach, Paul Nixon, named just one change to the team that beat Notts Outlaws on Friday evening with Harry Swindells coming in for George Rhodes. The Foxes skipper, Colin Ackermann, won the toss and elected to bat with Nick Welch on strike, accompanied by Gareth Delany, facing the pace of Luke Wood.
A quiet start in the first over, but the second saw two huge hits from Welch as he hit England International Saqib Mahmood across the leg side for two maximums.
With Delany (1, 4b) looking to find his first boundary, he looked to hook Wood through the leg-side but could only top-edge it to Alex Davies behind as the wicketkeeper took the easy pouch.
Arron Lilley joined Welch in the middle facing his former team.
The partnership took 13 from the fourth with Welch and Lilley both finding the boundary off Lamb. Wood followed up with an impressive over, going for just two which his seam partner, Mahmood, tried to replicate.
Mahmood bowling a testing final over of the powerplay, but Lilley managed to end the Foxes powerplay on a high by flicking the England international down to fine leg for four. The Foxes ended the sixth over on 39 for one.
The 50 runs were brought up in the eighth over with a single from Lilley on strike, Welch then smashed the next delivery for his third maximum of the innings and quickly found his fourth in the following over.
Welch (43, 36b, 1x4, 4x6) was going well but could not claim his maiden Blast half-century as Bohannon was under his high drive as he looked to send Livingstone over the ropes. A strong partnership of 54 from 46 balls between Lilley and Welch came to an end with the skipper joining Lilley in the middle.
Strong running from the Foxes kept the scoreboard ticking over and then Lilley began to find the boundaries again. A slog in the fourteenth and a slog sweep in the fifteenth took the Foxes over the 100-run threshold and up to 111 for two with five overs remaining.
Lilley was closing in on his half century with after sending Matt Parkinson through the leg-side for four in the seventeenth, however he was caught behind by Davis from the very next ball for 49 (41, 3x4, 2x6) with the Foxes on 120 for three.
Harry Dearden came and went for 1 (2b), bowled by Mahmood which saw Harry Swindells to the middle.
The duo of Ackermann and Swindells went on to found the boundary three times between them to bring up 150 runs.
An unusual final over saw nine balls bowled by Mahmood bowled two no balls to start things off with Ackermann hitting the first free-hit for four but failing to connect with the second.
The Foxes captain was the run out by Davies for 29 (28b, 2x4).
This saw Lewis Hill come in to claim the strike for the final ball of the innings which he lofted back of Mahmood’s head and over the rope at long on for four.
This brought the Foxes’ innings to an end on 154 for five.
Callum Parkinson opened the bowling for the Foxes with Alex Davies on strike, accompanied by Liam Livingstone.
Ackermann began with four consecutive overs of restricting Lightning to three from the first two overs, though Lightning hit 14 from the third.
The seam of Dieter Klein and Gavin Griffiths helped to restrict Lightning again as the powerplay came to an end with Lightning’s first wicket as Griffiths claimed Livingstone’s wicket for 20(14b), as Ackermann took the grab in the off side.
Lightning were 38 for one after the powerplay.
The 50-run mark was brought up in the eighth over from back-to-back boundaries by Davies off Ackermann. The Foxes skipper squeezed the over to only concede an additional three runs.
After that, tidy bowling from the Running Foxes restricted the home side as they moved to 68 for one at the half-way point of the innings, slightly behind the Foxes comparative score.
A mix of seam and spin was brought into the Foxes attack as the Foxes searched for the second wicket.
The Foxes then found it in the fifteenth over, along with the third and fourth Lancashire wickets as Ackermann ended the over conceding just one run and claiming three wickets.
First, the wicket of Croft (36, 31b) was claimed as Klein caught the batsman’s hook shot. Davies’ (52, 48b) wicket fell from the next delivery as nicked one through to Swindells who took the catch – this left Ackermann on a hat-trick ball.
A hat-trick never came for the Foxes captain, though, he did claim his third wicket of the over two deliveries after the wicket of Davies. Bohannon (0, 2b) was the man to go as he came across his stumps from the leg-spin delivery but watched the ball pass his bat and clip the top of middle and leg.
This over left Lightning on 113 for four, requiring 43 runs from the final four overs.
The fifth wicket fell in the following over as Ackermann repaid Klein for his wicket the previous over, as he caught Vilas’ (0, 1b) off-side drive.
With two overs to go, Lightning were 120 for five, requiring 35 runs.
Ackermann elected for seam with Klein and Griffiths bowling very tidy overs to push the Foxes to victory by 22 runs.
The result, as well as results elsewhere in the final group stage games of the 2020 Vitality Blast meant that Leicestershire Foxes finished third in the North group and qualified for the Quarter-Finals as one of the two highest third place finishers, beating Birmingham Bears on a superior net run-rate.
FIGURES | Parkinson 4-0-27-0, Ackermann 4-0-18-3, Lilley 1-0-11-0, Klein 4-0-22-1, Griffiths 3-0-16-1, Delany 2-0-21-0, Davis 2-0-12-0
FOXES | Ackermann (c), Lilley, Dearden, Welch, Delany, Hill, Swindells (wk), Klein, Parkinson, Griffiths, Davis.
LIGHTNING | Livingstone, Davies (wk), Croft, Vilas (c), Bohannon, Jones, Lamb, Wood, Hartley, Mahmood, Parkinson
IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallet of Outside Off for supplying images throughout the game.