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2 IN 2 FOR THE STEELBACKS


Richard Levi’s 28-ball half-century helped Northamptonshire to consecutive wins in the NatWest T20 Blast with a record T20 run-chase of 196 at Wantage Road. Levi’s 58 in 37 balls gave the Steelbacks a flowing start and Steven Crook’s 33 in 24 balls finished the job.

Requiring the best part of 10-per-over, Northants kept pace with the chase throughout with Josh Cobb making 35 in 23 balls and Ben Duckett 29 in 15 balls. Only leg-spinner Matt Critchley found any control for Derbyshire, his three overs yielding 19.

Levi was in belligerent mood once again after an opening-round 61 against Leicestershire. His second scoring stroke was a six - the trademark clip off the legs - and his added three more maximums, including a sweet straight lofted-drive off Shiv Thakor, before the Powerplay was complete. The first six overs were worth a healthy 77 for 1.

Cobb found form in two second XI T20s earlier in the week and here began with a classic straight-drive before clearing his front leg to smear Alex Hughes over midwicket and pulling another wide of long-on.

Duckett got his “duck-scoop” away to begin the 15th over that yielded 18 runs to bring the equation back to 46 required in 30 balls. But after an outrageous reverse sweep that flew straight into the burger van for six, he tried the same stroke and top-edged to Thakor at backward point.

Crook helped reduce the target to 16 from 12 balls and then smashed Jimmy Neesham over extra-cover for four. Just five were needed from the final over but Rory Kleinveldt was caught at long-on trying to finish the game in style, before Andy Carter worked Rob Keogh to still leave a single needed from two balls. But a high full toss was cut over backward point to seal victory.

It was a mighty chase - the highest for Northamptonshire in T20s - after Derbyshire posted 195 for 7.

Buoyed by an opening-round victory at champions Lancashire, the visitors were sent in and raced off to a great start thanks to Durston. He took Steven Crook’s first over for 19 - two heaved pulls flew towards the short boundary and a slammed uppercut for six over point to the long side of the ground.

He helped the visitors to 65 off the Powerplay - Northants’ only joy from a catch at extra-cover to remove Hamish Rutherford for 10 - but they lost Durston on the cusp of a half-century before skipping down to Seekkuge Prasanna and being stumped for 47.

It ended a stand of 74 for the second wicket in just 36 balls. Chesney Hughes played his part with 46 in 29 balls - having begun with three boundaries, all of them off the edge of the bat: two flashing past slip and a top-edge that Adam Rossington couldn’t take behind the stumps.

But having been 110 for 3 after 11 overs, Northants hauled back the Derbyshire innings with four wickets in 11 balls. Josh Cobb, the stand-in captain, was taken for four, six, four in successive balls by Wayne Madsen before gaining his revenge by trapping Madsen lbw trying to sweep. Hughes then seemed to miss a straight delivery, bowled middle stump, to give Cobb a second wicket in the over. 

Olly Stone returned to have Jimmy Neesham caught at first slip - a hat-tip to captain Cobb - and when Graeme White claimed a return catch from Tahakor, 140 for 3 had become 151 for 7.

But Tom Poynton found two boundaries in the closing overs, coupled with some good running in his 37 in 21 balls, to put up a testing target. It proved not enough.

Steven Crook said:

“To chase nearly 200 is a great effort, some proper entertainment for the crowd. Credit to Rich Levi he set up up once again and we’re buzzing two from two.

“The advantage of having a long order is that we’ve got guys who can strike the ball really cleanly throughout and we’re really chuffed to have chased that down."

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