Lancashire 128 for 3 (Buttler 52*) beat Worcestershire 127 for 8 (Lilley 2-18) by seven wickets
Lancashire kept their NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final hopes alive by brushing Worcestershire aside in their penultimate North Group game at Emirates Old Trafford, winning by seven wickets with 15 balls to spare.
The lowly Rapids were stifled by spin as they posted only 127 for 8 on a pitch used for a Women’s Super League game earlier in the day. Lancashire’s quartet of spinners returned 4 for 66 from 13 overs combined, with in-form leggie Matt Parkinson the pick of them with 1 for 14 from four.
Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone then shared a third-wicket stand of 76 in eleven overs. Livingstone hit 36 off 37 balls without a boundary, while Buttler finished unbeaten on 52 off 40 with four fours and two sixes. Offspinner Arron Lilley struck twice and later hit a brisk 31.
The Lightning move up a place to sixth with their fifth win. They have 13 points from as many games and host Birmingham Bears on Friday. They must win and hope other results go their way to qualify.
Parkinson’s economy rate was much-talked about even before this game having returned 4 for 23 in defeat to Yorkshire last Friday. Here, he bowled Daryl Mitchell with a big-spinning leg break in his latest miserly spell.
Of all bowlers who have bowled more than three overs in this season’s Blast, the 20-year-old’s economy rate of 5.78 runs per over is the best. He has 13 wickets from eight appearances.
Left-armer Stephen Parry opened the bowling and struck in the seventh over to get Mitchell Santner caught at deep midwicket. Pakistan overseas seamer Junaid Khan also claimed two-for.
Only captain and opener Joe Leach, who fell to a brilliant one-handed diving catch by Buttler off Ryan McLaren, and Brett D’Oliveira made it into the twenties for the Rapids, with 24 off 17 balls and 30 off 33 respectively.
Josh Tongue got rid of Jordan Clark courtesy of a fine tumbling catch at short fine-leg by debutant Patrick Brown four balls into the Lightning chase.
Lilley then hit three fours in a row off Tongue at the start of the fifth over to take his side to 34 for 1 and ahead on Duckworth Lewis Stern with rain threatening the Manchester area. He had hit five fours by the time he was trapped lbw by legspinner D’Oliveira as the score fell to 47 for 2 in the seventh.
Livingstone and Buttler took the score to 68 for 2 after 10, and when the latter hit Alex Hepburn’s medium-pacers for six over long-on to take the score to 90 for 2 in the 14th, it was the first boundary in almost eight overs. The half-century stand came up off 45 balls in the next over before, with net run-rate in mind, the last 30 runs came in double quick time for the loss of only Livingstone.