Third defeat in a week for Steelbacks

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The Steelbacks and the Friends Life t20 just aren’t on speaking terms at the minute.

A record that stands at played four, lost three and one point from an abandoned fixture does not make for pretty reading and it will take a startling transformation for a quarter-final place to be threatened.

Warwickshire v Northants 20/20 at Edgbaston.'David Willey.

Warwickshire v Northants 20/20 at Edgbaston.'David Willey.

At Bristol, once more, it was their batting that let them down as they squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to break their duck.

In pursuit of a modest target, the visitors made a right meal of it in the initial stages, leaving themselves far too much to do and although Kyle Coetzer battled hard, the result was a third reverse in six days.

Following two straight defeats after going in first, it was little surprise when Alex Wakely elected to chase upon calling correctly.

If it was a 40-over contest the clamour would be for early wickets and although this is always the case, restriction is more the order of the day and from this perspective the Steelbacks did a so-so job in the opening overs.

The New Zealand duo of Hamish Marshall and Kane Williamson started brightly, the latter especially, until the former miscued David Willey’s – the pick of the attack - first delivery to midwicket.

With a trip to the Caribbean looming with his national side, Williamson was hoping to end his Bristol stay in style and he was doing just that until he pulled James Middlebrook to Rob White on the midwicket boundary.

A scoreboard reading 64-2 at the halfway stage failed to hint at dominance for either side and when Alex Gidman holed out the hosts were in danger of losing their way with the visitors employing the age-old tactic of using spin to rush through the overs.

And lose their way they did. The necessary burst in the latter part of the innings arrived to some degree but the regular fall of wickets and a dearth of boundaries, which happens from time to time, told of a side bereft of form.

That said, the Steelbacks took their catches and generally looked quite sharp with their outfielding, a trait that needed to be transferred to their batting which had let them down in their two previous attempts.

However, that didn’t materialise at the start of the chase didn’t go to plan with White, Rob Newton and Wakely all gone before the third over had been concluded.

Such a beginning necessitated a salvage operation but that lasted all of a couple of minutes as Cameron White picked out mid-off in Ed Young’s first over.

That spell of four wickets in 14 balls, with Muttiah Muralitharan’s four-over allocation to come, clearly installed Gloucestershire as favourites and that remained the case 10 overs in with 87 still needed.

As Warwickshire had proven a few night ago, that was a target that was far from an impossibility and while Coetzer was at the crease there was the chance that the odds could be upset but they lengthened considerably when he aimed one sweep too many at Muralitharan and had his stumps rattled.

The Mission Impossible theme tune blaring out over the loud speakers with 36 required from three overs was then particularly apt as that was exactly, a late flourish from Chaminda Vaas aside, what it turned out to be.