Sports Editor Oscar Frost reports on the first game of Blast Off 2023 that saw Lancs beat Derby by four wickets
In the first game of the Blast Off, which kickstarted the Vitality Blast 2023, Lancashire Lightning smashed their way to a victory over the Derbyshire Falcons by four wickets.
Lancs won the toss and chose to bowl, which seemed to be an astute choice. Whether the pitch hardened during the afternoon, or Lancashire were simply better with the bat, the Lightning outclassed their opponents.
Lancashire shone with the bat, starting very explosively. The opening partnership of Luke Wells and Ian Bell knocked the ball around nicely to get to 50 from just 3.5 overs. Wells top-scored the affair with a very useful 66 runs from 35 balls.
The Lightning then continued to push towards the Derbyshire total, reaching it with relative ease. Daryl Mitchell came up with a useful 31 from 19 balls, with Colin de Grandhomme also pitching in with 19 runs.
Derbyshire finished with a respectable total of 179 runs, but the match was certainly still in the balance. Their efforts were perhaps inflated by the Lancashire fielding, so it seemed a defendable total.
Lancs got off to a very hot start with the ball, dismissing Haider Ali to reduce the falcons to 1-1. However, the partnership of Wayne Masden and Luis Reece was enough to steady the ship.
Derbyshire were 82-2 at the halfway stage, with the innings at a tipping point. Masden reached his 50 from 34 balls, but was unable to get any further as he was dismissed a ball after reaching the mark.
Du Plooy was caught at third man for 33, after a very solid innings. He seemed as though he would push on to emulate Masden, but this was not the case, as the Falcons were 120-2 after 14.2 overs.
The Lancs fielding was reasonably solid in the initial stages, however they squandered four chances to take easy wickets. A missed runout where both batsmen were stranded at the non-strikers was the pick of the bunch. The other three were dropped catches, each of which seemed to be reasonably routine. Anuj Dal was dropped twice on the way to his 24 run knock.
Overall, this was a convincing win from Lancashire, although they perhaps could have stamped their authority on the game in the later stages with the bat. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and they showed promise from their first game of the 2023 Vitality Blast.
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