Lewis Hill says Leicestershire Foxes have 'a bit of belief back' despite Lightning defeat

By Jon Culley

By Duncan Browne
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 8:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 8:39 am
Lewis Hill top scored with 50. Photo: Getty Images
Lewis Hill top scored with 50. Photo: Getty Images

Unbeaten North Group leaders Lancashire Lightning made it five wins from six as they defeated Leicestershire Foxes, who have lost all three home Vitality Blast fixtures, yet won three from four on the road.

The Foxes opted to make first use of what looked a good batting surface but were bowled out for just 135, failing to complete their 20 overs despite 50 from Lewis Hill.

The Lightning spinners held sway, sharing six wickets and conceding only 73 runs in 11 overs.

Lancashire celebrate the wicket of Hamish Rutherford. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The visitors cruised past their target in the 18th overs to win by seven wickets with 23 balls to spare, veteran all-rounder Steven Croft top-scoring with 45 off 46 balls.

“We started really well with the bat but we lost it a bit through the middle and lost too many wickets as we tried to accelerate near the end," said Hill.

“I was pleased with my own performance. I’ve been up and down the order finding my role and it was nice to be striking the ball nicely.

"We thought 170-180 would have been a good score, so it needed a score from somebody else as well.

Colin Ackermann of Leicestershire takes a quick single. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

“Their spinners bowled very nicely. They took the pace off the ball, which meant we had to put the pace on the ball ourselves and we did not do that as well as we wanted to do.

“It was a disappointing night in the end. We’ve had some good wins on the road and it would be nice to do it in front of our own fans but we are away at Derby on Thursday and back here against Notts on Friday, so if we can get a couple of wins in those games it will put us in a really good position.

“We’ve got a bit of belief back after those three away wins. We’ve always thought we can do well in this competition, even after losing those first two games.”

The combination of competitively priced tickets and away wins over Yorkshire, Birmingham Bears and Worcestershire by the Foxes attracted a full house of around 5,000 to the Uptonsteel County Ground but it was an unrewarding night for most of them.

LEICENaveen-ul-Haq makes his ground. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

A wet ball after a couple of hefty showers during the Lightning innings did not help matters for the Foxes bowlers, although against a batting line-up as strong as Lancashire’s they would have struggled to defend such a low total even in perfect conditions.

Leading wicket-taker Naveen-ul-Haq removed Keaton Jennings via a caught-behind off an inside edge on to pad and ended an 81-partnership between Croft and Phil Salt (38 off 34) when the latter skied one to deep square leg.

Croft, who looked nailed on for his first half-century of the season, was run out after a suicidal call for a second run by skipper Dane Vilas, but with only 36 more needed from 46 balls the outcome was never in serious doubt.

Tim David, who lost his off-stump to Ben Mike in swinging at a free hit on 19, won the contest with a six over wide long-on off Naveen, finishing with 24 off 17 balls.

The only negatives for Lancashire were injuries to Liam Livingstone (knee niggle) and Luke Wood (tight quad), although they will hope neither is serious with their next match away to Yorkshire at Headingley on Friday.

Hamish Rutherford’s disappointing debut season for the Foxes continued with a second-ball duck as he punched Richard Gleeson straight to the fielder at short third man, leaving the New Zealand opener with just 51 runs from seven innings.

Otherwise, it was a satisfactory powerplay for Leicestershire Foxes, for whom Hill was profitably innovative. Arron Lilley’s first scoring shot against his former county went back over off-spinner Liam Livingstone’s head for six.

Hill ramped a six as Gleeson’s second over went for 14 compared with three off his first as the Foxes posted 54 for two from six, Scott Steel the other casualty when he hit straight to mid-off. Hill and Lilley added 41 and the Foxes looked well set at 78 for two before the latter was caught at long-on in the 11th.

But Lightning spinners successfully applied the brake and claimed five wickets as the Foxes stumbled to 125 for seven, two for Matt Parkinson, who removed Rehan Ahmed via a catch at long-on after the youngster had clubbed him over cover for six, two for left-arm spinner Tom Hartley, who dismissed Rishi Patel and Mike in consecutive overs, and one for Tim David, who held a low return catch moments after Hill had completed his first half-century of the season.

Callum Parkinson was leg before to a Danny Lamb slower ball, Naveen run out by a direct hit from cover and Colin Ackermann was caught at mid-wicket for 25 as the Foxes innings ended after one ball of the 20th over.