Wayne Madsen struck the first half-century of the 2023 Vitality Blast, but the Falcons fell to a final-over defeat at Blast Off.
The Blast will conclude in Birmingham with Finals Day on July 15 and Lightning took an impressive first step towards that showpiece with an impressive win in the first half of the inaugural Blast Off opener in the Second City sunshine.
The Falcons’ 179 for five, underpinned by Wayne Madsen’s classy 50 (35 balls), was solid, but no more than par on a good batting pitch.
Lightning then reached 183 for six with four balls to spare after Luke Wells laid the foundation with a violent 66 (35 balls), his maiden T20 half-century.
After the Falcons were put in, Luke Wood began with a wide but his second ball was straight enough to win an lbw decision against Haider Ali. Madsen was soon motoring to his 25th T20 half-century, though, supported by a sprinkling of lively, if fleeting, cameos.
Second-wicket pair Luis Reece (23, 21) and Madsen added 64 in 48 balls before the former fell lbw to Tom Hartley. Madsen struck four sixes on his way to a 34-ball fifty but perished next ball when he lifted Danny Lamb to Hartley at deep mid-wicket.
Leus du Plooy clubbed three sixes in a 16-ball 33 then fell in pursuit of another when he holed out to Wood. Anuj Dal (24, 20) and Aneurin Donald (30 not out, 19) connected with a blow or two and, after Mattie McKiernan clouted Tom Bailey for a last-over six, only the openers had failed to clear the ropes. The suspicion was, however, that it was a 200-pitch and the Falcons were a few short and so it proved.
Even without star batters Keaton Jennings (injured) and Phil Salt, Liam Livingstone and Jos Buttler (IPL-duty) Lightning reeled in their target. They started briskly as Pakistan paceman Zaman Khan suffered a bracing welcome to the Blast. His first ball was hoisted far over long leg for six by Wells in an over that went for 18. Zak Chappell’s opening over then went for 15 as the Lightning thundered to 44 in three overs.
Opening pair Wells and George Bell added 59 from 26 balls before the latter spliced Khan to mid on. Steven Croft was run out after finding himself at the same end as Wells but the opener thrashed a 24-ball fifty and left his side very strongly placed, needing 68 from ten overs, when he fell in familiar Blast fashion, caught in the leg-side deep.
Daryl Mitchell’s cleanly-hit 31 (19 balls) kept the Lightning foot on the Falcons’ throat and victory was closed out with more comfort than a last-over finish suggests.
Vitality Blast 2023: Be Bold, Be Derbyshire
In 2023, every Derbyshire Falcons home T20 will be played on a Friday night, weekend or Bank Holiday, meaning it’s never been easier to follow the Falcons in the Vitality Blast.
2022 saw a Club-record number of T20 wins, coupled with the Best Domestic Spectator Experience to make the Falcons Vitality Blast campaign one of the best ever, and this year’s promises to be even bigger, with an enhanced food and drink range and added emphasis on accessibility.
Tickets are selling fast, with the clash with Yorkshire Vikings at Queen’s Park, the East Midlands Derby vs Notts Outlaws and the Monday 29 May Family Day gaining high interest from supporters, so don’t delay if you want to experience Mickey Arthur’s Falcons live this summer!