Kleinveldt and Gleeson strike for Steelbacks as Lightning lose out
The Steelbacks produced a superb bowling performance as they secured an 11-run victory against Lancashire Lightning at the County Ground on Thursday night.
Rory Kleinveldt and Richard Gleeson were the stars with the ball, claiming three for 16 and three for 29 respectively as their side secured a vital NatWest T20 Blast victory.
Lancashire had fought back after slipping to 25 for five as Kleinveldt, whose opening three overs went for just two runs, and Gleeson ran riot.
But Ryan McLaren's sublime 77 wasn't enough as the Steelbacks celebrated a good win in front of another big crowd at the County Ground.
Richard Levi was the stand-out player with the bat for Northants, blasting 71 as he continued his fine form in this season's competition.
But there is a slight worry ahead of Saturday's trip to Worcestershire Rapids, as Levi was forced off after colliding with Gleeson in the field while taking a catch.
Northants were boosted by the successful return of Muhammad Azharullah though, as he came back from a shoulder injury to register figures of one for 27.
Azharullah would have to wait to play his part after Northants lost the toss and were sent into bat by Lancashire.
Levi hit the first ball of the innings for four, but Junaid Khan came back well to restrict Northants to a total of seven from the opening over.
Adam Rossington added a four from the next over and a six and a four from the third, smashing a Jordan Clark delivery on top of one of the bars.
But Rossington was to go in the fifth over as he holed out to Aaron Lilley off the bowling of Khan for 29 off 16 balls.
Ben Duckett was next in but he endured a difficult start and was eventually bowled by McLaren for a five-ball duck.
At the end of the powerplay, the Steelbacks were 42 for two, needing Levi, in particular, to stick around and kick-start the innings.
But Lancashire were suffocating the Steelbacks with spin and there was no real momentum from the home side.
Levi relieved a bit of pressure with a timely six, but the Steelbacks had stumbled to 69 for two at the halfway stage.
The 100 came up at the end of the 14th over, with Levi and Alex Wakely ticking along.
But the Steelbacks needed to up the rate and Levi was the man to do it, reaching his 43-ball half-century with a four and adding another boundary from the following ball.
And the 16th over was to be exactly what the Steelbacks required as they took 25 runs from the bowling of McLaren, including a huge Levi maximum.
Khan had bowled a tight next over, but a wide was to cost him as Wakely hammered a six from the final ball to keep the Steelbacks going.
However, Levi's brilliant innings was to end with the first ball of the 18th over as he was bowled by Clark for 71 from 54 balls.
That left the Steelbacks on 139 for three with 17 deliveries remaining and they sent Kleinveldt in to try to finish with a flourish.
And the South African star announced his arrival with a trademark six.
But Khan again bowled superbly to stop the flow of runs, leaving the Steelbacks needing a big final over off McLaren.
However, they didn't get it and instead ended on 158 for four, which was below-par, meaning the Steelbacks would need a good start with the ball if they were to salvage the game.
And they were to get it as in-form Gleeson bowled Liam Livingstone for four in the first over of the reply.
The second over, bowled by Kleinveldt, was to be hugely eventful as first Lilley skied one and was caught by Levi running back from slip.
But the South African collided with the onrushing Gleeson and had to be helped from the field amid real concern.
Kleinveldt then got a second wicket as Karl Brown took a swipe at one and was caught behind to leave Lancashire 10 for three after two overs.
Jos Buttler announced his arrival with a lovely six, but he was to escape from the following delivery as Saif Zaib dropped a big chance to dismiss the England star at fine leg.
But Buttler was to go in the fifth over as Gleeson bowled him brilliantly for eight, with the Steelbacks pace ace celebrating the wicket with real vigour.
Lancashire were in all sorts of trouble and it got even worse when skipper Steven Croft was run out brilliantly by Tom Sole, who was on for the injured Levi.
But Lancashire then started to fight back, with Vilas and McLaren joining forces in the middle order to help their team recover.
They took 21 from one Rob Keogh over to carry Lancashire to 80 for five, needing 79 to win from the final eight overs.
Vilas and McLaren were playing brilliantly and the Steelbacks were under real pressure heading into the final five overs.
Azharullah finally found a way through as he had Vilas caught well by Crook for an impressive 40 from 27 balls.
McLaren had reached 50 and was joined by Clark, but the latter was to go as the Steelbacks turned the screw by bringing back Gleeson for his final over.
The bowler hit the stumps of Clark to provide another vital wicket for his side.
And Nathan Buck soon followed suit, bowling Stephen Parry for one, to leave Lancashire needing 35 runs from 17 balls with just two wickets remaining.
Northants then nearly got rid of McLaren, but Sole dropped him in the deep, to the huge disappointment of the home fans.
Duckett did a brilliant bit of fielding to stop a McLaren six and Azharullah had managed to keep the run rate down in his final over.
Kleinveldt was handed the last with Lancashire needing 26 runs to win it.
McLaren hit two successive sixes, but then found the safe hands of Keogh to give Kleinveldt another wicket, leaving two Lancashire tailenders needing to produce 14 runs from the
final three balls.
But they couldn't do it, and the Steelbacks celebrated a crucial success..
Steelbacks: Levi, Rossington (wk), Duckett, Wakely (c), Keogh, Zaib, Crook, Kleinveldt, Buck, Gleeson, Azharullah.
Lancashire Lightning: Brown, Livingstone, Lilley, Buttler (wk), Vilas, Croft (c), McLaren, Clark, Parry, Parkinson, Khan.