T20 Blast: Lancashire beat Northants to win Edgbaston final
|NatWest T20 Blast final, Edgbaston|
|Lancashire 166-7 (20 ovs): Davies 47, Prince 43; Afridi 3-14, Willey 2-21|
|Northants 153-6 (20 ovs): Cobb 44no, Afridi 26; Faulkner 2-25|
|Lancashire won by 13 runs|
Lancashire Lightning won their first T20 title with a 13-run win over Northants in the final at Edgbaston.
Chasing 167 to reclaim the trophy they won in 2013, the Steelbacks needed 21 to win off the final over.
It proved beyond them as the Red Rose county triumphed in their third final appearance, having finished runners-up last year.
Alex Davies top-scored with 47 off 26 balls in Lancashire's 166-7, with Northants mustering 153-6 in reply.
Not even a late display of power-hitting from Shahid Afridi (26 off 18 balls), who dislocated the finger of James Faulkner with one shot drilled back at the Australian, could see the Steelbacks to their target.
Lancashire, led by former Warwickshire and England one-day coach Ashley Giles, had earlier conquered tricky batting conditions to launch their innings with a stand of 77 between Davies and Ashwell Prince (43) and then add 31 runs from the last three overs to post an imposing total.
In reply, Josh Cobb finished unbeaten on 44 from 37 balls for Northants, but he was left stranded at the wrong end as they came up short.
A trial by spin
It was an unusual Finals Day at Edgbaston, where two low-scoring semi-finals had preceded the evening's showpiece.
Lancashire found strength in their spin department as they coasted to a six-wicket win against Hampshire, with Stephen Parry and Arron Lilley producing combined figures of 5-32 and their value shone through again in the final.
Captain Steven Croft chipped in with his slow variations alongside Parry and Lilley and the trio took 2-67 from their 10 overs as Northants struggled to keep the required rate down.
Parry finished the competition as joint leading wicket-taker with team-mate Faulkner, the pair claiming 25 victims each to emphasise their value to the Red Rose county.
Boom Boom, but ultimately bust
Pakistan all-rounder Afridi had only arrived a few hours before the start of Finals Day after his flight to the UK was delayed, having played six games for the Steelbacks earlier in the competition before departing for the Caribbean Premier League.
His spin bowling proved highly effective as he produced superb figures of 3-14 in the final.
But later, just as he looked set to mount one of his trademark destructive T20 innings to pull off an unlikely victory, rookie Lancashire seam bowler Gareth Griffiths dismissed him for 26 with the help of a catch at deep point by Liam Livingstone.
It was only 21-year-old Griffiths' second T20 appearance for Lancashire, having made his debut in the semi-final earlier in the day.
Once Afridi was back in the dugout at 133-5 in the 18th over, the task was beyond Northants.
England stars show promise
Ahead of England's limited-overs series against Australia, Northants all-rounder David Willey and Lancashire wicketkeeper Jos Buttler were both in action for their respective sides.
After Willey's heroic century off 41 balls in the Steelbacks' quarter-final win against Sussex, the left-hander, who will join Yorkshire next season, was unable to replicate it on the big occasion as he holed out off James Faulkner.
With the ball, he had followed up his 3-30 in the semi-final win against Birmingham Bears with 2-21 to check Lancashire's progress after a positive start by Davies and Ashwell Prince (43), who put on 77 for the first wicket.
Buttler's summer without a big score with the bat continued as he made 10 and 27 in his two innings on the day and it was his Lancashire wicketkeeping understudy Davies who walked away with the man of the match award, despite dropping a skier by Cobb in the covers as the Northants innings neared its climax.
Lancashire all-rounder James Faulkner:
"We brought our 'A' game today and played well as a group. I'm really happy for Princey (Ashwell Prince) and Gilo (Ashley Giles) and I've enjoyed my time at Lancashire.
"It's a nice finish and I'm really happy for everyone involved with the team. It's a team sport and I'm pumped for everyone involved.
"Finals Day is completely different to everywhere else in the world, it's unique. The support all the teams had here was phenomenal and it will be a day I'll never forget."
Northants batsman Josh Cobb:
"It's a massive disappointment. We were underdogs to a lot of people, but we were backing ourselves to go out and win it.
"We can be proud to get to the final, but it is a shame not to get over the line.
"While I was there I was always backing myself, but I probably needed someone to play a good cameo at the other end.
"Unfortunately we lose Willo (David Willey, joining Yorshire in 2016), who's exceptional for our T20 side, but there's a lot of talent in our squad who can step up and maybe we can come back next year."