Steelbacks left frustrated as rain cuts short Outlaws clash

Matt Kelly claimed four wickets for the Steelbacks at Trent BridgeMatt Kelly claimed four wickets for the Steelbacks at Trent Bridge
Matt Kelly claimed four wickets for the Steelbacks at Trent Bridge
Rain frustrated Northants Steelbacks at Trent Bridge as their Vitality Blast North Group clash against Notts Outlaws was abandoned without a result due to rain.

After a start delayed by 30 minutes following a late-afternoon downpour, the Steelbacks bowlers produced an excellent performance as Outlaws reached 140 for six before another cloudburst sent them off the field after 18 overs.

Groundstaff had to put on most of the covers and though the rain eased, it was not soon enough for any mopping up operation to be completed before the cut-off time for a restart.

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That meant umpires Paul Baldwin and Russell Warren had no option but to signal the abandonment, with the teams taking one point each.

It was especially frustrating for Matt Kelly, the Steelbacks’ Australian seamer, who took four for 29, including the scalp of Samit Patel - still seeking a maiden T20 century at the age of 37- who was looking as though he might go close when he was out for 63 from 44 balls with 22 balls left in the innings.

This was likely to be Kelly’s final appearance for the club, with New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham expected to be available for Wednesday’s home encounter with Leicestershire Foxes following the completion of his stint in the IPL.

Steelbacks had been well rewarded for their decision to put the Outlaws in as the home side’s top three tumbled out inside the powerplay overs on a lively pitch.

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Joe Clarke top-edged to deep square leg off Kelly, Alex Hales launched consecutive sixes off Tom Taylor only to swish at one from from Ben Sanderson that had him caught behind off the thinnest of edges, and former Steelbacks man Ben Duckett ballooned a catch that was chased by Freddie Heldreich from backward point and taken at third man.

Tom Moores and helped Patel plunder 34 in three overs as the Outlaws advanced to 72 for three after nine, but the Steelbacks spinners dragged the scoring rate back after Moores had picked out Saif Zaib on the boundary at deep point.

It was another impressive performance from left-arm wrist spinner Heldreich, who finished with one for 23 from his four overs.

Patel eased the pressure by crashing six and four off Graeme White and four consecutive boundaries off Taylor, all behind square on the off side, going past 50 in this competition for the 26th time.

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The charge was checked abruptly by the impressive Kelly, who dismissed Patel and Steven Mullaney in the space of four deliveries in the 17th over, which cost only a single for good measure.

Patel followed Moores in picking out deep wicket and Mullaney was caught behind off an inside edge.

That was when the rain rain returned, the players staying out just long enough for Dan Christian to clear the rope behind square on the leg side off White.

But sadly, that was the last action of the night.

The Steelbacks are back in action when they host the Foxes at Wantage Road on Wednesday (start 6.30pm).