Lancashire cruise to victory

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The Independent Online
Kent 184-9 Lancashire 185-1 (Lancashire win by nine wickets)

Champions they may be, but Kent were not exactly at their Sunday best when they began the defence of their title. Over the years Lancashire have made a habit of scoring easy runs on their pilgrimages to Canterbury. Yesterday's was no exception.

After their attack had proved more than a match for Kent's much vaunted stroke-makers, their opening batsmen Jason Gallian and Mike Atherton made light work of the bowling to pile up a century stand. It was broken by Nigel Llong's off spin when Gallian, having made a personal best in the competition, chipped a simple catch to Carl Hooper at mid-wicket and departed. By then the first wicket had realised 159.

Gallian scored his 85 at better than a run a minute, hitting 11 boundaries off the 84 balls faced. Atherton was there at the death, 79 not out, hitting the winning two runs off the 116th ball of his innings, which contained five boundaries, when there were five overs remaining.

There had been a remorselessness throughout about Gallian and Atherton's partnership, which fell just 18 runs short of the county's Sunday League first wicket record. Kent had bowled Tim Wren and Julian Thompson straight through in an effort to restrict the Lancashire run rate and both returned figures of 28 runs in their full allocation.

But it was wickets that they needed and Lancashire did not give them up so easily, and all the while the batsmen were turning the trickle of runs into a flow.

Earlier England's Peter Martin was in encouraging form, picking up two wickets for just 24 runs, and Mike Watkinson also claimed a couple of victims, conceding 29 runs in his eight overs as Lancashire demonstrated some economical bowling.

Thankfully for Kent Mark Ealham maintained his superb one- day form with a 46-ball half century to make a fight of it, and once again he underlined his England potential for the one-day series against India. He takes wickets as well - although not yesterday, unfortunately for Kent.