Bob Willis Trophy: Leicestershire chase 150 in 15.4 overs to beat Lancashire

Colin Ackermann
Colin Ackermann raced to his second half-century of the match
Bob Willis Trophy, Blackfinch New Road, Worcester (day four):
Lancashire 322 & 236: Davies 54, Croft 52*; Mike 4-39
Leicestershire 409-8 dec & 150-3: Ackermann 73*
Leicestershire (22 pts) beat Lancashire (4 pts) by seven wickets

Captain Colin Ackermann led the charge as Leicestershire completed a sensational seven-wicket victory with just eight balls remaining in the Bob Willis Trophy match against Lancashire at Blackfinch New Road.

Ackermann finished on 73 not out off just 41 balls as the Foxes chased down their 150 runs off 17 overs target, hitting 10 fours and a six in an extraordinary display of shot-making on a slow pitch.

Young left-hander Harry Dearden played an important role, hitting Lancashire strike bowler Tom Bailey for consecutive sixes over long-on before reverse-sweeping left-arm spinner Tom Hartley high over extra cover for another maximum.

It was hard to take for a Lancashire side badly hit by England call-ups and injuries, and for whom three bowlers were making a debut, and in particular Steven Croft, who earlier in the day led a determined defensive effort, finishing unbeaten on 52 after facing 185 balls before Lancashire were bowled out for 236 in their second innings.

The morning had seen Leicestershire make an encouraging start after Lancashire resumed on their overnight score of 96-3, Chris Wright finding the inside edge of Rob Jones' bat and seeing the ball loop from the batsman's front pad high into leg side, where George Rhodes, running in from short midwicket, took a comfortable catch.

Lancashire captain Dave Vilas was joined by Croft and the two experienced batsmen dug in.

It was beginning to look as though Vilas and Croft could match or exceed their first innings partnership of 130 until shortly before lunch, when the South African tried to steer a wide delivery from left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson through point, only to bottom edge the ball into his stumps.

If that was fortuitous for Parkinson, his next wicket was anything but, George Balderson going back to a delivery which spun sharply back into the left-hander's pads to dismiss him leg before wicket.

Croft remained immoveable, but the loss of Danny Lamb, leg before to a full delivery from Ben Mike, lifted Leicestershire spirits as they went in to tea with 32 overs remaining in the match.

Mike made it two in two balls by immediately producing a beauty to find the edge of Bailey's bat, Harry Swindells taking a brilliant one-handed catch to his right.

Hartley fought hard before being leg before on the back pad to an Ackermann delivery which turned, and Ed Moulton's second duck of the match left the Foxes a target of almost nine runs an over.

Having hit 95 before being run out by his partner in the first innings, Ackermann played superbly to complete a personal return of 168 runs in the match, along with two wickets and some outstanding captaincy in overseeing the taking of 20 wickets on a pitch which offered the bowlers relatively little assistance.

Leicestershire skipper Colin Ackermann told BBC Radio Leicester:

"That was a great way to start (as captain), I'm obviously proud of a good team effort.

"It was a tough four days as a whole, proper first-class cricket, and it's good to see the hard work paying off.

"To take 20 wickets on that pitch was a fantastic effort from the bowling unit.

"The plan (in the run chase) was for me to take it deep and anything can happen in the last couple of overs. Harry Dearden played a brilliant cameo to get us back on track and I think we used the short boundaries quite well."

Match report supplied by PA Media.

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