Test Match Sofa
First win could turn Lancashire's season around
By Graham Hardcastle
Lancashire believe they have finally turned the corner in the County Championship. The reigning champions, without a win in seven heading into their basement battle with Durham at the Riverside, clinched their first win of 2012 in the midst of a thrilling final afternoon run chase of 200 on Saturday.
Ajmal Shahzad, on loan at Old Trafford for the rest of the season from Yorkshire, was their hero when he hit the winning runs off Steve Harmison in the contest’s final over, describing it as “a great team win” and “just what we needed”.
Their Championship success last season was underpinned by thrilling final over wins against Yorkshire and Hampshire at Liverpool, and this was another such performance.
“The guys mentioned it in the changing room about what it was like when they won the Championship,” said Ashwell Prince, the county’s South African overseas batsman who scored an important 51 before falling as his side slipped to 168-8.
“The boys are talking about it being one of the better games they've played in. It's certainly one of the most exciting games I've played in over my 200 or so first-class games.”
Lancashire had targeted two wins from their matches against Durham and Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge this week before they break up for the Twenty20 Cup group stages.
Glen Chapple’s side won at Trent Bridge last year, but have lost their last two home matches against Notts, including a 185-run defeat at Old Trafford last month.
“It's going to be a massive game,” said Prince. “We were disappointed to have lost the last game against them. We got ourselves into a good position having bowled them out for 160-odd and then we were in a strong position with the bat. But we let it slip.
“We've spoken about some of the opportunities we've had over the course of the season so far and not really taken our chances. That game was one of them. We obviously don't want to repeat that. We feel like we have a score to settle with them.”
Prince, who played four Championship matches for Notts in 2008, has posted seven scores of 50 or more in all forms of cricket this term, including six in the four-day arena.
He will also play against Worcestershire and Middlesex in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition on Tuesday and Sunday before flying back to South Africa for a break seen as he is not required by Lancashire for Twenty20. The left-hander will return in time for their next Championship match against Sussex at Guildford, starting on July 11.
Lancashire have signed Yasir Arafat as their Twenty20 specialist overseas player, the Pakistani all-rounder who made his international return on Sunday with three wickets in a 20-over clash with Sri Lanka after more than two years in the wilderness.
The Lightning are not expected to sign another overseas player to play alongside Arafat unless injury strikes. They believe their recent loan capture of Shahzad leaves them in a healthy position even though he will not be allowed to play in the two North Division matches against his parent county.
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