Poulton's Toby Lester playing vital role for Lancashire in Vitality Blast
Poulton's Toby Lester was delighted at his career-best 4- 25 from four overs in Lancashire's 12-run victory over Derbyshire at Emirates Old Trafford.
The Lightning have won all three Vitality Blast matches since bringing the 25-year-old into their T20 side, climbing to second in the northern group.
Lester was even entrusted with bowling the final over, from which the Falcons needed 18 for victory, but the left-arm seamer dashed their hopes with wickets off successive balls.
The Lightning had posted 157-8, with captain and opener Liam Livingstone’s 44 off 21 balls the highlight, then completed a double over Derbyshire by restricting them to 145 -7.
Lester, who had been playing for Lytham this season, said: “We came into this game with a lot of confidence from the last two. We’re just keeping our skills from practice high and taking it out onto the pitch. We’re really confident of turning over teams and defending scores like that.
“I thought that was a tremendous effort from the bowlers. The way our bowlers have bowled in the tournament has been really good.
“It’s a good time to bowl at the end because if you nail your skills wickets are available, especially if they are having to go for it.
Jimmy (Faulkner) set it up with that penultimate over (conceding only five). The pressure was slightly off in a sense.”
Lancashire were 68 without loss in the sixth over but subsided as leg-spinner Matt Critchley, medium pacer Alex Hughes and overseas seamer Wahab Riaz claimed two wickets apiece.
The Falcons were 81-2 in the 10th over of their chase before being shackled and falling to a fourth straight defeat, leg spinner Matthew Parkinson taking an excellent 22-21 from four overs.
Livingstone and Alex Davies, who hit 31, had shared an opening stand of 160 at Derby and blazed away again.
Skipper Livingstone backed up his maiden century in that match with some more vicious hitting, including two sixes before he fell to a smart low catch at long-on from Wayne Madsen off Hughes, who later had Davies caught at short third-man reverse sweeping.
Critchley and fellow leg-spinner Matty McKiernan, both playing against their home county, contributed to Lancashire’s slump. Left-armer Riaz bowled Lester and had Steven Croft caught behind late on.
Lester, with variations aplenty struck in the first over of Derbyshire’s chase to get Ben Slater caught at cover before removing Riaz caught behind in the fifth.
That brought key man Madsen to the crease, who busily advanced the Falcons alongside opener Calum MacLeod (30) as they reached their 50 partnership in five overs.
But three balls later, MacLeod was stumped down leg by Dane Vilas off Jennings’ medium pace, leaving the score at 81-3 at halfway.
Parkinson had Madsen caught behind off a top-edge for 34 and Gary Wilson caught at deep mid-wicket to make it 96-5.
Daryn Smit and Critchley then revived Derbyshire hopes and took the target down to 23 off the last two before Faulkner’s crucial economical over.
That eased the pressure on Lester, who had Critchley and Smit caught in the deep with successive deliveries in only his third match.
The Red Rose are next in action at Leicestershire on Wednesday.