|Royal London One-Day Cup, Lord’s|
|Lancashire 304-4 (50 overs): Jennings 96, Vilas 70*, Croft 68; Helm 2-51|
|Middlesex 284 (48.5 overs): Harris 117, Simpson 74; Mahmood 4-38|
|Lancashire beat Middlesex by 20 runs|
Lancashire beat Middlesex by 20 runs at Lord’s to set up a One-Day Cup semi-final against holders Hampshire in Southampton on Sunday.
But, after James Anderson and Saqib Mahmood reduced the hosts to 24-5 after 10 overs, chasing a target of 304-4, Lancs were made to fight all the way.
A Middlesex List A sixth-wicket record stand of 197 between James Harris (117) and John Simpson (74) took them close.
But, needing 84 off 59 balls, both were out and they fell short on 284 all out.
At 221-6, Harris was crucially stumped by Red Rose skipper Dane Vilas off spinner Matt Parkinson to end his first century in any form of cricket. And, just two balls later, England legend Anderson struck again with his second run-out.
With 43 runs needed off four, Mahmood came back to earn his fourth wicket – and a competition haul of 25 wickets in nine games.
A sliced top edge over third man for six off the last ball of Anderson’s ninth over then reduced the target to 27 off 12 but Nathan Sowter was run out and Toby Roland-Jones holed out.
Earlier, former Lancashire skipper Liam Livingstone was out fourth ball on his first start for the Red Rose this season following an unremarkable four-match stint with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.
But England opener Keaton Jennings (96) Vilas (70 not out) and Steven Croft (68) all made half-centuries to help Lancs go past the par-score of 300 – and that quickly looked well beyond Middlesex.
Off the last ball of the fourth over, bowled by Mahmood, Holden played the ball to mid on, thinking the ball had gone past Anderson. But he was wrong as the 36-year-old paceman, down on one knee and with only one stump to aim at, scored a direct hit.
It then became two in two balls when a fired-up Anderson struck with the first delivery of the next over, trapping Nick Gubbins leg before with an inswinger.
Mahmood then got in on the act, having Sam Robson caught behind, before striking twice with the first and last balls of his next over, when Stevie Eskinazi miscued to square leg, before Ross Taylor then edged an outswinger to first slip.
However, any Lancs hopes of an easy win were quickly evaporated by Harris, who scored 11 fours and two sixes, and former Lancashire youngster Simpson.
It was the second time in three weeks that two Middlesex batsmen have posted a new List A county record partnership at Lord’s, following the 184 put on by Eskinazi and Gubbins for the fifth wicket in the win over Gloucestershire. And it so nearly set up another victory, only for Lancashire to hold their nerve.
Middlesex’s James Harris:
“It was an outstanding piece of bowling from Mahmood. You could argue Jimmy got out-bowled which doesn’t happen an awful lot. So kudos to them, they made it hard for us up top.
“John and I were just trying to keep us in the game for as long as we could and it almost felt like we were in charge for periods of it, so to lose by 20 hurts a lot really.
“I was out there sooner than I thought I’d be. It’s been a little bit of a plan that I would come up the order if we were in trouble to try and back up Simmo. A century has been something on my bucket list for a while.”
Lancashire fast bowler Saqib Mahmood:
“We had a great start with the ball. Me and Jimmy bowled well up top, then it got a bit tricky in the middle, but we had that over when we took a couple of wickets and that changed the game.
“It got a bit nervy out in the middle when Simpson and Harris were batting. Someone just told me Harris’s average in List A was 10, but he played like a proper batter out there.
“Simpson also played really well and they didn’t look like giving us a chance, but we kept sticking at it and when that chance came we took it. We were just glad to get over the line really.”