Lightning struck Wade Park in a big way on Wednesday night, when Lithgow steamrolled pre-competition favourites Bathurst City to seal a spot in the Royal Hotel Cup final four and bundle Redbacks out of the Twenty20 tournament in the process.
It took the biggest chase in the competition’s history to do so, since the Royal Hotel Cup became a T20 tournament in 2012-13 that is.
The Lightning ran down Redbacks’ mammoth total of 7-174 in 19.3 overs, losing just three wickets along the way.
For perspective, Wednesday’s chase was the first time in 16 attempts a side has run down more than 150.
It was just the fifth time in 30 attempts a team has successfully chased more than 140 as well.
The Lightning accounts for the last time that happened, when they ran down Orange City’s 5-140 in November of 2014.
Clearly Lithgow is a side that has a penchant for chasing, the Lightning has never batted first in two seasons competing in the T20 Royal Hotel Cup whether its won the toss or not.
“We do prefer to chase, we like to know how many we need an over,” Chris Redding, a member of Lithgow’s fast bowling cartel, said.
That number was 8.75, from the word go, on Wednesday night.
Thanks to Ryan Gurney and Todd Costello’s half centuries the Lightning did it pretty comfortably in the end, with seven wickets and three balls to spare.
It could’ve been even swifter too, the Lightning only needed six to win from the final two overs, taking nine balls to knock off the final half-dozen required.
Gurney finished 80 not out in the chase while Costello made 69 before being caught off Joey Coughlan’s bowling when his side needed three to win.
Gurney is now firmly in the mix for the Carl Sharpe Medal for player of the tournament, he’s second to only Blayney’s Mick Curtale on the run-scoring ranks and is averaging 129.
Lithgow skipper Ben Sheehan won the toss and sent Bathurst City in, which looked to be a terrible decision after Redbacks pummeled 7-174 from their 20 overs.
Coughlan led the way with 52, while Trent Hemsworth (40), Greg Adams (34) and skipper Matt Willis (29) all chipped in.
Josh Howarth (2-37) and Jeremy Fittler (2-46) were Lithgow’s only multiple wicket-takers.
“We bowled well in the first 10 but they got away from us in the next 10,” Redding explained.
With Bathurst City’s confidence soaring after a sterling batting performance, Lithgow faltered at the start of its dig, losing Sheehan (15) and Joel Gurney (1) to sit precariously at 2-33.
Then Ryan Gurney and Costello went to work, adding 140 for the third wicket and inspiring their side to an unlikely victory.
“We had plenty of confidence in our batting line up, Ryan and Ben started well,” Redding said.
“After losing two quick wickets Ryan and Todd kept us close to the required run rate and really accelerated with about seven overs to go.
“It was a shame for Todd to get out only needing three to win, but they were both excellent.”
The win shoots Lithgow to the top of pool B, however the side will most likely drop back to second after CYMS’ clash with Kinross on Friday night.
Even with a loss CYMS’ net run rate should remain high enough to claim top spot.
Despite that, after such a chase there’s reason to suggest Lithgow has taken favouritism leading into the semi-finals, where the Lightning and CYMS will be joined by pool A qualifiers Orange City and Cavaliers.
“If we keep that form anything is possible,” Redding said.
“But, after losing to CYMS earlier in the competition I think makes them the favourites.”