Despite 52 from Wayne Madsen and Imran Tahir’s 2-32, Derbyshire Falcons suffered their first defeat of the NatWest T20 Blast by five wickets to Lancashire Lightning at Emirates Old Trafford.
Matt Critchley’s quick-fire 40 off 24 balls and a finely-paced 52 from Madsen guided Derbyshire to 152-8 on a slow turning pitch after the visitors won the toss and elected to bat.
The hosts got off to a flyer in their response and although they were pegged back by a brief flurry of wickets, Jos Buttler’s unbeaten knock of 42 steered them to victory in the 19th over.
Captain Gary Wilson said: “We thought 153 was reasonably competitive. We certainly weren’t out of the game. In an ideal world, we’d have wanted 160 or 170. That would have been enough, I think.
“Sometimes in Twenty20 cricket you can’t expect to win every game. It’s a game where the opposition, if they play well and you are slightly off, are going to win the game. As I’ve said to the lads, it’s important we are playing our best cricket towards the end the competition, not right at the start.
“If you’d have offered me two wins and a loss after the first three games, I probably would have taken it. That’s no excuses for what happened today. I thought Lancashire played pretty well. They had good, clear plans, so credit to Steven Croft and his team.”
Promoted to open the innings, Critchley got the visitors off to a good start despite losing Billy Godleman (2) in the second over, stumped by Buttler off Liam Livingstone.
The powerful all-rounder hit Livingstone for four then Steven Croft for six as he raced onto 21 from 12 balls at the end of the fifth. Dropped on 23 by Stephen Parry, he went onto make the spinner pay, adding a further 17 in quick-time before he was caught by Croft off Matt Parkinson for 40.
Luis Reece (37) batted cleverly, rotating the strike on a slow wicket first with Critchley, then in his 45-run third wicket partnership with Madsen.
But he became Parkinson’s second wicket, caught by Livingstone in the fifteenth over as he tried to find the ropes and accelerate the innings.
Once he fell the visitors suffered a collapse of wickets at the opposite end to Madsen, Matt Henry (7) bowled before Gary Wilson (2) was run out and Alex Hughes bowled by Junaid Khan the next ball with the score 134-6.
Madsen continued to bat nicely as wickets fell around him and he reached his half-century off 34 balls, hitting six fours and one six as his side passed 150. When he was out in the final over and Hardus Viljoen (0) followed the next ball, any hopes off passing 160 faded and Derbyshire finished on 152-8.
Opening the Lancashire innings, Livingstone and Karl Brown powered to 48 without loss in the fifth over before Tahir got the vital breakthrough, Livingstone caught on the ropes by Madsen for 23.
Three wickets fell in the next four overs and the momentum shifted slightly, with Lancashire on top of the run rate but wary of losing any more batsmen.
First Arron Lilley was caught by Critchley off Reece without scoring, before Brown was out to Hughes for 30 and Croft (4) lbw to Tahir, completing a fightback from Derbyshire.
But the experienced Buttler and Vilas (20) stabilised the innings before kicking on, adding 40 for the next wicket in five overs. Wilson used eight bowlers, making that 16 used in the match, an English domestic record in Twenty20 cricket and a sign of the tricky batting wicket.
Once Vilas fell to Viljoen, Madsen claiming his third catch, Derbyshire lifted again, only to be denied by an unbeaten 43-run sixth wicket partnership between Buttler (unbeaten on 42) and Ryan McLaren (24 not out).
The pair took Lancashire to victory in the nineteenth over, the hosts finishing 155-5 and winning by five wickets with nine balls to spare.
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