Steelbacks star Azharullah up there with the best, says Ripley

Azharullah bowled Alex Davies (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Azharullah bowled Alex Davies (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Northants head coach David Ripley hailed the ‘bottle’ of Muhammad Azharullah after the bowler’s late heroics handed the Steelbacks a four-run win against Lancashire Lightning.

Azharullah took three for 28, dismissing James Faulkner with the final ball of the match to secure the victory.

Faulkner had smashed a superb 73 to drag Lightning back into contention after the Steelbacks had taken early wickets.

But Azharullah had the final say to ensure his side defended their 169 for five successfully.

“Azhar does what he does,” Ripley said. “He bowled his yorkers well.

“It’s tough at the end because you’ve got decisions to make on whether you’re going to bowl your slower ball, your yorker or your short ball.

“You’ve got to have your field set right and we didn’t get some of that right towards the end, but he’s got a lot of nerve, a lot of bottle.

“He’s done that a lot of times for us and thankfully he got us over the line tonight.”

And Ripley admits the 31-year-old, who was the top wicket taker in T20 when the Steelbacks won it in 2013, is up there with the best death bowlers in the competition.

“He’s up there,” said the coach.

“We made it hard for ourselves at times, but when he goes for the yorker he’s very dangerous and he generally takes wickets as well.”