Croft keeps Lancs alive
Last-ball drama dents Outlaws title hopes
Last Updated: 10/09/08 10:18pm
Croft: Fine all-round display
NatWest Pro40 - Division One
Lancashire Lightning 202-8 Innings Complete (S J Croft 68 no) v Nottinghamshire Outlaws 201 (G P Swann 61)
Lancashire beat Nottinghamshire by 1 run
Nottinghamshire fell agonisingly short of a thrilling victory as Glen Chapple held his nerve to hand Lancashire Lightning a one-run win.
Chasing 203, the Outlaws needed 12 off the last over and four off the last ball, but they could only manage two as Charlie Shreck was run out attempting a third.
Earlier Steven Croft hit 68 from 66 balls to propel Lancashire up to 202-8, before picking up three wickets for 33 runs as the Nottinghamshire middle order collapsed after Graeme Swann had made a rapid 61.
The result means Nottinghamshire now face rivals Sussex at home on Sunday in a winner-takes-all clash for the Division One title.
Croft produced a true man-of-the-match performance as he rescued the visitors from 74-5 after they were asked to bat by Nottinghamshire captain Chris Read.
Read saw his decision pay immediate dividends when Darren Pattinson had Lou Vincent (1) caught behind and Stuart Law (13) played on in the first four overs.
Although 20-year-old opener Karl Brown hit seven fours in a sprightly 41, he was fooled by a Mark Ealham slower ball to spoon a catch to mid-off, while Chapple followed in the next over with an edge to first slip off Andre Adams.
The former New Zealand all-rounder then sent Paul Horton back to the pavilion lbw but Croft joined forces with Francois du Plessis to stage a recovery.
South African du Plessis made 31 before he was bowled by Samit Patel's quicker ball, with the new England one-day spinner also removing Gareth Cross (18) and Kyle Hogg (6) in the closing overs.
Croft remained unbeaten as he hit five fours and two sixes, including one big maximum off Ealham in the final over.
Nottinghamshire seemed in cruise control in the early stages thanks to Swann's blazing bat, with the 29-year-old smashing three sixes and seven fours in his 42-ball innings.
That gave the hosts a flying start as they reached 88-1 in the 12th over, but the wheels then came off in dramatic fashion.
The hosts lost five wickets for 39 runs in the next 15 overs as the required run-rate steadily climbed, with 65 needed off the last 10 overs.
Read then edged Croft to hand Cross his third catch standing up to the stumps, but three fours from Adams in the 36th over brought it back to a run a ball before Ealham (17) was yorked by Smith.
Chapple took on the final over and had Adams caught on the mid-wicket boundary, and although Pattinson's six ensured it went to the wire, the tail-ender failed to find the rope off the final delivery.