Steelbacks denied as Foxes snatch tie with final-ball boundary

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Raphael Weatherall almost produced more final-over heroics, but Northamptonshire Steelbacks had to settle for a tie against Leicestershire Foxes on Friday night.

Weatherall, who steered the Steelbacks past Worcestershire Rapids earlier this month, was handed the responsbility of limiting the Foxes, who eventually needed five from the last ball.

But Lewis Goldsworthy edged a boundary from the final delivery to tie a thrilling contest.

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The Steelbacks had made 208 for five after winning the toss and opting to bat, with skipper David Willey leading the way as he smashed 71 from 48 balls.

Raphael Weatherall (right) received instructions from David Willey before bowling the final over during the T20 Vitality Blast match between Northamptonshire Steelbacks and Leicestershire Foxes (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Raphael Weatherall (right) received instructions from David Willey before bowling the final over during the T20 Vitality Blast match between Northamptonshire Steelbacks and Leicestershire Foxes (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Raphael Weatherall (right) received instructions from David Willey before bowling the final over during the T20 Vitality Blast match between Northamptonshire Steelbacks and Leicestershire Foxes (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

But opener Rishi Patel made a sensational 104 for the Foxes as they threatened to win it before the sides had to make do with a share of the spoils.

Northants had recalled Ricardo Vasconcelos to their line-up, and the opener made a sprightly start after they opted to bat first, hitting a couple of early cover boundaries off Wiaan Mulder.

He and Matthew Breetzke, who dispatched Ben Mike’s first three balls to the fence, rattled along nicely as they added 42 from 24 before Scott Currie pounced to run the left-hander out with a pinpoint throw from long off.

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Another piece of individual brilliance by Currie accounted for Breetzke, who was yorked for 47 from 24, but Willey began to accelerate, slog-sweeping Goldsworthy for the first six of the night and punching the next ball for four.

Ravi Bopara (22 from 15) helped to keep the scoreboard racing along before he was castled by Goldsworthy, but it was Sikandar Raza’s explosive knock of 36 not out from just 14 balls that did most to propel Northamptonshire beyond 200.

Raza hammered both Goldsworthy and Ian Holland for successive sixes and, although Willey perished in the final over, miscuing to mid-off – the first of two wickets in as many balls for Josh Hull (2-38), the Steelbacks’ total looked competitive to say the least.

However, Patel eagerly accepted the challenge when Leicestershire replied by smashing 18 from Willey’s first over and hitting cleanly over the ring as he and Sol Budinger accumulated an opening partnership of 61 from 28.

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Ben Sanderson eventually removed Budinger, caught in the deep for a supporting act of 13, but Patel sped past his half-century from 22 deliveries with a cover-driven four off Raza and continued to plunder boundaries from seamers and spinners alike.

A six and four from successive Sanderson deliveries took Patel to his hundred and, although he was dropped by Breetzke at long-on on 103, the fielder made amends in the next over by safely pouching a top edge off Freddie Heldreich.

Willey gave Northamptonshire renewed hope, trapping Louis Kimber leg before and Mulder and Mike both holed out to deep square leg off Weatherall in quick succession to leave the Foxes needing 19 from the last two overs.

A trio of dot balls by Sanderson built pressure, though, and Weatherall dismissed both Peter Handscomb (43) and Ben Cox to bring the equation down to five from the last ball, but Goldsworthy’s outside edge flew to the boundary to rescue a point for Leicestershire.

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