Steelbacks climb the table after win at Foxes

Northants Steelbacks climbed above Leicestershire Foxes at the bottom of the North Group with a comfortable five-wicket win in the Vitality T20 Blast on Tuesday night.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 9:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 9:42 pm
Rob Keogh

Rob Keogh hit the winning boundary with 10 balls to spare, top-scoring with 34 as the Steelbacks chased a modest target of 139.

Ricardo Vasconcelos got the ball rolling with 30 from 18 balls and Saif Zaib smashed two sixes in an unbeaten 21 from 11 balls.

Scott Steel, who had figures of two for 17 from his off-spin, hit 44 but had little support other than Harry Swindells’ aggressive 32 from 16 balls as the Foxes were bowled out for 138 in 19.5 overs.

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Having opted to bat first, the Foxes struggled after being reduced to 25 for three in four overs against the Steelbacks spinners on a hybrid pitch.

Left-armer Graeme White dismissed Josh Inglis to a catch at deep midwicket for 12 after his unbeaten century at Wantage Road 10 days ago.

Josh Cobb removed Lilley in similar fashion and held a return catch from Colin Ackermann in the same over.

Steel picked up a couple of boundaries to take the score to 38 for three after six overs, and the Foxes were 58 for three at halfway before Lewis Hill holed out to long-off to give 19-year-old left-arm wrist spinner Freddie Heldreich the first of two wickets.

Swindells, recalled with Louis Kimber self-isolating over a Covid contact, made his presence felt, hitting three consecutive sixes in innovative style off the pace of Wayne Parnell, but was stumped - at the second attempt - as White moved one ahead of David Willey in the Steelbacks’ all-time list for the competition with 72 wickets.

A catch by White at long-on gave Heldreich his second reward as Rishi Patel perished, Ben Mike thick-edged to backward point, Tom Taylor bowled Steel with a full delivery and Parnell picked up two wickets in the last over.

Spin was less effective for the Foxes as the Steelbacks chalked off 44 of the required 139 in their powerplay, the two wickets lost coming from consecutive deliveries by Afghan pace man Naveen-ul-Haq, who had Ben Curran caught at mid-on with a slower ball before dismissing Vasconcelos via a brilliant diving catch by ‘keeper Inglis.

By halfway the Steelbacks needed just 53 more.

Cobb, who hit sixes off Naveen and Callum Parkinson, was caught at wide long-off for 28, Nabi sliced to backward point and Parnell was smartly caught behind on the leg side, but Zaib’s clean hitting meant the result was never in doubt.