Eagles chase victory to seal Finals Day place
Mark Pettini and Matt Walker shared a 2nd wicket partnership of 147 to help the Essex Eagles claim an 8 wicket victory over the Lancashire Lightning to seal a place in the Friends Provident t20 Finals Day.
Faced with a mammoth run chase of 184 the Eagles got off to a bad start losing the prolific Ravi Bopara (4) from just the 16th delivery of the innings after the opener was dismissed by Glen Chapple.
With Bopara gone and Alistair Cook away on international duty; Matt Walker came to the crease to join ex skipper Mark Pettini with the Eagles facing a mountain to climb.
Despite the early lose; Walker and Pettini got to work building the foundations of a vital partnership. With the field still wet after the earlier rain showers the visitors fielders were starting to struggle.
With Pettini leading the way the Eagles slowly fought their way back into the game, the opener recorded an impressive half century from just 32 balls to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats.
Walker (74) completed his own half century from 39 balls to put the Eagles in the driving seat despite still needing over 10 an over.
With the game building to an exciting climax the Lightning struck back thanks to Sajid Mahmood who bowled Pettini (81) from the last ball of the 17th over to leave the home side needing 20 runs from 12 balls.
The strike through bright to end an end Pettini’s 147 run partnership with Walker.
Despite the loss of Pettini new batsman James Foster (16) held his nerve to seal an impressive victory to spark wild celebrations at a packed County Ground
Having won the toss James Foster decided to bowl first and it was a move that paid off straight away thanks to David Masters who trapped Stephen Moore (0) LBW with the first delivery of the game.
Masters went on to complete an almost perfect first over conceding just one run to put the home side in control in front of a capacity crowd at the County Ground.
Despite the earlier setback Tom Smith (35) and Steven Croft (27) responded with a partnership of 32 runs before a heavy rain shower forced the umpires to take the players off the pitch.
Play was held up for 30 minutes but Smith and Croft were back at the crease just after 20.30 to continue their innings but their partnership only lasted 11 more deliveries thanks to Chris Wright who dismissed Croft to leave the visitors 42-2.
The wicket was the perfect response by the Eagles who had started to look second best in the field before the rain break.
With Croft gone Smith was joined at the crease by Paul Horton; and the pair built a 3rd wicket partnership of 51 which put the visitors back on top.
Despite the loss of Smith in the 11th over the Lightning continued attacking the Eagles bowlers with Mahmood promoted up the order to disrupt the home side.
The plane work with Mahmood smashing 34 from just 17 balls in a partnership of 49 with Horton (44) who was trapped LBW by Wright at the start of the 16th over.
Wright picked up his third wicket of the night 3 balls later after he bowled Mahmood to leave the Lightning 143-5 with just over 4 overs remaining.
Despite the double setback the Lightning continued to attack the Eagles bowlers with Maurice Chambers (49-0) and Andy Carter (44-0) conceding 93 from 8 overs and even though Wright (25-4) picked up his 4th wicket of the innings the Lightning reached 183-6.