Wakely delivers the goods as table-topping Steelbacks make it four wins on the spin
The Steelbacks made it four straight wins in the Vitality T20 Blast with a tense four-wicket win over Glamorgan at Edgbaston on Thursday night.
Northants got home with just four balls to spare after a pulsating encounter, with Alex Wakely keeping his cool to hit the five required from the final over to win it in the opening two balls.
it was a match that saw both teams get off to storming starts, only to be pegged back by spin, but this Steelbacks team knows how to win, and they yet again came out the right side.
Glamorgan posted 160 for seven with Nathan Buck taking four 29, and the Steelbacks looked to be well on course when they stormed to 50 without loss in just four overs, but Glamorgan put the brakes on and it all went down to the last over, with Wakely the Edgbaston hero, finishing on 36 not out from 29 balls
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The win means Northants are four points clear at the top of the Central Group table.
Steelbacks named an unchanged team from the one that saw off Birmingham Bears at the County Ground on Tuesday, with wicket-keeper/batsman Adam Rossington ruled out with his injured finger.
Josh Cobb won the toss and chose to bowl on the same pitch that Somerset and Worcestershire shared 442 runs on earlier in the day, with the former defending 229, but only by 16 runs.
The game was preceded by an emotional minute's silence in memory of former Northants and England all-rounder David Capel, who passed away on Wednesday morning, aged 57.
The players lined the boundary edge at both ends of the ground, and it was fitting that umpire Rob Bailey and Steelbacks head coach David Ripley stood almost side by side, the pair flanking another ex-Northants man in Nick Cook.
They were two of Capel's closest friends, and both were close to tears.
Glamorgan started their innings quietly before Dan Douthwaite took a liking to Brandon Glover, hitting 16 off the first four balls of the third over.
But his fun was shortlived as he slapped the final ball of the over to Paul Stirling at point, and he held the catch to dismiss Douthwaite for 23 and leave Glamorgan 29 for one.
The wicket didn't stem the flow of runs though as the Welsh side smashed their way to 58 for one at the end of the powerplay.
Spin seemed to be the best option to try and contain things, and the Steelbacks utilised all four of theirs in Cobb, Graeme White, Stirling and Zaib.
But it was a seam bowler who made the second breakthrough in the 12th over, with Nick Selman pulling Nathan Buck's slower ball to Glover on the square-leg boundary to go for 35.
That left Glamorgan 95 for two with more than eight overs to go, and still in good shape for a run charge.
But the Steelbacks refused to let them get away easily, and when Chris Cooke was out, caught on the boundary by Zaib for five off the bowling of Stirling, Glamorgan were 114 for three and in danger of not capitalising on their great start.
Their hopes rested on Andrew Balbirnie who had moved to 58 from 37 balls, but then he was cleaned up by a beauty of a yorker from Buck and Glamorgan were 123 for four with two new men at the crease.
Zaib then produced two fantastic pieces of fielding to reduce Glamorgan to 133 for six.
His first catch to dismiss Callum Taylor was superb, running 20 yards and diving full length to make the grab, but his second was simply incredible.
Graham Wagg launched a Buck slower ball high into the Birmingham sky, but Zaib was waiting at long-on, just a yard in from the boundary.
He kept his eyes on the ball, caught it cleanly, and when his momentum was going to take him over the ropes, he calmly lobbed the ball up in the air, took a step over the rope, stepped back in play, and grabbed the ball.
It was sensational, and thankfully the Sky Sports cameras were on hand to capture it.
The same over saw Buck then dismiss Owen Morgan, and although Glamorgan did manage a couple of lusty blows they will have been disappointed to be restricted to 160 for seven.
Steelbacks openers Levi and Stirling got off to their customary express start, with Stirling hitting two sixes in the first over.
Levi was soon joining in the fun, hitting two maximums of his own as the pair put on 50 in the opening four overs.
But the fifth, bowled by Marchant de Lange, saw both men go, caught going for big hits on the leg side, and the Steelbacks were suddenly 54 for two.
By the end of the powerplay, Steelbacks were 65 for two, but just as Glamorgan had been, spin bowling started to reel Northants in.
Skipper Cobb has failed to really fire so far in the competition, and when he was pinned lbw by Prem Sisodiya for 14, Northants were rocking a little at 81-3.
That brought Alex Wakely in to join Ricardo Vasconcelos, and as the last recognised frontline batsmen a lot rested on them.
The pair looked comfortable and produced the odd big shot to keep up with the run-rate and take the score to 113 in the 14th over.
But then Vasconcelos tried to cut a Taylor delivery that was too close to him and was bowled for 25 from 23 balls.
Zaib came and went quickly, and when Berg was bowled for a breezy 11 off eight balls, Steelbacks needed 20 to win from 14 balls.
Wagg bowled the penultimate over, and it was to be a pivotal one as not only did White hit two boundaries, Wakely was also dropped by Douthwaite after skying to point.
That left the Steelbacks needing five from the final over.
Wakely hammered the first ball straight back past de Lange for a four, and then sealed yet another win with a single.