Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman said with hindsight he would have batted first after the Falcons just failed to chase down Lancashire Lightning’s 290 in the Royal London Cup.
The 25-run defeat left the Falcons, who were 100 without loss in their reply, fourth in the North Group with one match remaining. Three clubs will qualify for the knockout stages.
Godleman said: “In hindsight (with) the way the wicket played, we most certainly would have batted first if we had known it would play in the nature it did.
“The moisture was there in the morning and the green tinge suggested it might do something for the first hour. We all thought the sun would harden the surface and become easier to bat later on.
“But saying that, to restrict them to 290 I would have taken that from where they were after 25 overs. I was confident at 100 for no wicket and we should have found a way to chase that down.”
After Liam Livingstone’s 86 from 73 balls and Jordan Clark’s 51 from 40 balls took the Lightning to 290 for 8, with Duanne Olivier taking 2 for 36 from nine overs, the Falcons looked on course for victory.
A century opening stand from Billy Godleman (73) and Ben Slater – their second of the weekend - seemed to be the perfect platform, but Lancashire’s spinners turned the game as the Falcons ended on 265 for 8.
Despite their win, the Lightning have been knocked out.
Derbyshire backed up their decision to bowl first with some disciplined bowling that restricted Lancashire to 42 from the first powerplay with Haseeb Hameed dropped at deep midwicket on 2.
Hardus Viljoen found some late movement to have Hameed caught behind for 26 in the 13th over but Livingstone picked up the tempo by pulling Matt Critchley for six and then lifting Alex Hughes high over wide long on.
Hughes had Alex Davies lbw caught on the crease for 39 from 58 balls before Livingstone hit his third six when he pulled Critchley over the pavilion and into the car park.
A ramp over the wicketkeeper took him to 50 from 35 balls and Dane Vilas improvised well after surviving a difficult running catch on nine until he scooped Ravi Rampaul to deep cover in the 31st over.
Livingstone drove Viljoen straight into the stand and looked set for a hundred until he tried to ramp the fast bowler and was bowled in the 37th over.
The Lightning were in danger of falling short when Rob Jones missed a sweep at Wayne Madsen in the 40th over but Clark responded impressively to ensure they posted a competitive total by reaching 50 from 39 balls before edging a big drive at Olivier in the 48th over.
Godleman and Slater took 55 from the opening powerplay.
Godleman reached 50 from 48 balls and Slater brought up the century stand by driving Matt Parkinson for six, but was beaten by the next ball and lost his middle stump.
Madsen survived a fierce return chance to Parkinson before he was run out after being sent back.
When Jones brought off a stunning diving catch at mid on to remove Hughes, the momentum was shifting towards Lancashire.
Derbyshire’s progress had stalled against the spinners and Critchley’s attempts to break free against Stephen Parry only ended in the hands of long off.
Godleman also fell to Parry and although Viljoen smashed four sixes in 34 ball 50, it could not save Derbyshire from defeat.
Lancashire head coach Glen Chapple said: “They had a good opening partnership and it looked like the pitch had flattened out so it was a bit concerning, but the lads hung in really well and I thought the captain used some really good tactical options against their left-handers early on.
“The boys maintained their desire to fight and win and it was a quality display all-round.
“Three from nine is difficult and it’s not an easy qualification. To lose three games in the manner that we did is very disappointing and we really do have to learn from that. We can’t hide because it’s happened twice in two years.”