Levi blasts Steelbacks towards the quarter-finals

Richard Levi hit 70 for the Steelbacks at New Road
Richard Levi hit 70 for the Steelbacks at New Road
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Richard Levi crashed 70 from 43 balls as Northamptonshire edged closer to a Friends Life t20 quarter-final spot after beating Worcestershire by five runs at New Road.

The big-hitting South African opener smashed six sixes and five fours while monopolising partnerships of 46 with Kyle Coetzer (11) and 56 with Cameron White (22).

A lower order slump then pegged the County back to 137-6 but that proved enough for the Midlands/Wales/West group leaders to complete a quick turnaround from Saturday’s defeat by Warwickshire.

Although Worcestershire dragged themselves into contention with Andre Russell’s 44 from 31 deliveries, they had too much to do after David Willey’s match-clinching return of 3-13 in four overs.

Willey crucially had Russell well caught on the long-off boundary by Alex Wakely and despite Daryl Mitchell’s unbeaten 38, the home side could not get close to the 21 required from the last over.

Joe Leach managed a four and six off Lee Daggett and in making 14 from the six balls faced the young batsman at number eight – fresh from a maiden championship century against Gloucestershire – made a case out for a higher position in the next match.

Ultimately the result was all about Levi’s ability to dominate, as he did last Tuesday in blasting an unbeaten 110 from 62 balls against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.

Worcestershire were blown away when Levi launched another onslaught with three consecutive sixes off Leach when taking 22 off the fifth over.

Three other bowlers were targeted for further maximums and Worcestershire only found a way to stem the carnage when turning to Gareth Andrew for the 15th over.

The eighth bowler to be used, Andrew made the breakthrough when Levi powered his first delivery to deep square leg where Russell was almost knocked off his feet in hanging on to the chance.

There was little else to come from the Steelbacks as wickets fell to the spinners, Shaaiq Choudhry (2-21) and Moeen Ali (1-17).

The last five overs produced only 30 in a disappointingly flat finish to the innings, but it did not prove costly in the end.