Steven Croft’s violent century lifted Lancashire to a much-needed 26-run victory over Warwickshire in the Royal London Cup at Edgbaston.
Croft exploited a very short boundary on the Hollies Stand side of the ground to smash 127 (from 83 balls with eight fours and eight sixes), his best limited-overs score, which lifted Lancashire to 351 for eight.
They then bowled Warwickshire out for 325 in the 49th over to record their first group win at the fourth attempt. The triumph at last got Lancashire up and running in the competition, though they still have little margin for error in their remaining games if they are to qualify.
Cup-holders Warwickshire’s grip on the trophy, meanwhile, hangs by the slenderest thread after a fourth defeat in five games.
Put in, Lancashire lost Alex Davies, lbw to Rikki Clarke, in the eighth over but were given a brisk start by Karl Brown (37, 41 balls) before he edged Olly Hannon-Dalby to the wicketkeeper.
Haseeb Hameed (46, 59 balls) and Liam Livingstone (27, 31) added 54 in 12 overs but after Livingstone nicked Clarke and Hameed swept Ateeq Javid to short fine-leg, Lancashire were a wobbly 130 for four.
The Red Rose was fortified by a stand of 103 in 87 balls between Croft and Dane Vilas (55, 47 balls) then, after Vilas lapped Javid to short fine-leg, Croft hit overdrive.
The skipper and Jordan Clark added 114 from 56 balls, a thunderous assault which included a remarkable 35 from the 45th over, delivered by Hannon-Dalby. Of the over’s ten balls, four were lifted over the boundary-rope with one, from a no-ball, scoring eight. Croft also biffed four sixes off Keith Barker in the penultimate over before holing out in the last.
Kyle Jarvis then spiked Warwickshire big guns with two wickets in an excellent opening spell of 5-1-18-2. Jonathan Trott flicked to square leg and Ian Bell, having hoisted James Anderson for successive sixes, nicked behind.
Sam Hain lifted a short ball from Anderson to deep point and Matt Lamb was bowled by Simon Kerrigan, at which point the Bears were 95 for four.
Tim Ambrose (68, 71 balls) and Clarke (76, 48 balls) kept their side in the game with a stand of 126 but both perished in the space of eight balls. Clarke charged at Simon Kerrigan and missed and after the in-form Ambrose, having taken his RL Cup run-tally to 222 in four innings, was beaten by Anderson’s direct hit, a target of 124 from the last 15 overs proved too much for the lower order.