Win gives Lancs Twenty20 momentum
Lancashire Lightning moved themselves off the foot of the Twenty20 Cup Northern table with a comprehensive 48-run victory over Derbyshire Phantoms at Old Trafford.
Although the win was not one of the Lightning's most spectacular performances, it was a determined effort that really put the visitors under pressure from ball one.
All-rounder Simon Marshall was the star with a quickfire 39 and four wickets for 20.
Marshall hit a boundary off the fifth ball of the innings before Stuart Law followed with three fours in the second over off Graham Wagg.
Wagg then dropped Marshall in the next over at third man to start a nightmare spell for the all-rounder in the field.
After spilling Marshall on five down at third man, the former Warwickshire man floored the same man - he was on 12 - in the next over at mid-on.
Marshall, replacing back injury victim Mal Loye, out-scored Law, who was out for 30, with seven boundaries off just 24 balls. When he was out caught in Ant Botha's first over, New Zealander Nathan Astle took over the run-scoring duties.
In their previous games, Lancashire have struggled to knit together the middle part of the innings - but Astle was determined he would be the one to do so.
Astle, aided by young wicketkeeper Gareth Cross, claimed just two fours and a six in his 36 ball innings of 40. He came in at the fall of the first wicket and saw his side to 148 for three.
Cross on the other hand was more attacking with four fours and one six over mid wicket.
When he departed the scene in the final over, bowled by Steffan Jones for 36, Tom Smith had already planted Jones over deep square leg for six. His 10-ball 16 was vital in boosting the total.
Jones was the pick of the Phantom's bowling with a tight spell of three for 26 off four. He removed Astle, Cross and Steven Croft to marginally peg back the Lightning onslaught.
Although Lancashire's Twenty20 campaign has been curtailed by injuries and international absences, they were boosted by the return of Sajid Mahmood - and fresh from his one-day duties against Sri Lanka, he contributed immediately in the field.
The 24-year-old paceman pinned Stephen Stubbings with a bouncer and then threw down the stumps when he attempted to take a quick single.
Supplementing Mahmood, Smith and Oliver Newby then kept the six over score down to 40 for one. But it was the spinners who really put the squeeze on.
Marshall and Gary Keedy (two for 21) picked up four wickets in five overs for just 24 runs to really put the game beyond the Phantom's reach.
Sandwiched in between two Keedy wickets - one with his very first ball - Marshall also grabbed two. His first stumped by Gareth Cross and his second a neat caught and bowled to leave the score 86 for five.
Mahmood then returned to splatter Botha's castle - 87 for six - leaving the tail well and truly exposed. Marshall then picked up two more victims to complete his haul before Steven Croft claimed two wickets of his own.