The Steelbacks travel to Grace Road tonight to take on East Midlands rivals Leicestershire Foxes in the NatWest T20 Blast.
The Steelbacks take the short trip up the M1 on the back of a brilliant victory over Birmingham Bears last night, here at the County Ground.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bowl first. The innings could not have got off to a worse start for the hosts, as Richard Levi was caught behind off the first ball of the match. With the Bears bowlers and fielders not giving anything away, the Steelbacks were struggling to even reach triple figures, only bringing the 100 up in the 17th over. However when Graeme White came to the crease, the momentum quickly changed, as he smashed 34 from just 12 balls, including three sixes, as the hosts added 50 runs in the last four overs, to finish on 139/8.
In the Bears’ reply, the Steelbacks came out firing on all cylinders. Although Shoaib Malik provided some fireworks for the visitors, hitting 47 from 38 balls, as the visitors made hard work of their task. However things went downhill for the Bears, as Malik was caught going for a six off Azhar Ullah. With only 20 balls left and still needing 29 runs to win, with only three wickets remaining, the Steelbacks looked well on top. Then thanks to some excellent death bowling from the Steelbacks pace bowlers, the Bears could only finish on 124/9, as the Steelbacks won by 15 runs.
Last time the sides met
These two sides last met in May here at the County Ground. Rain shortened the game to 18 overs apiece, with Leicestershire batting first. Foxes opener and skipper Josh Cobb led the way for the visitors, as he hit an excellent 70 from 45 balls to help his team finish on 176/4. Ian Butler and Muhammad Azhar Ullah were the pick of the Steelbacks bowlers taking two wickets each. David Willey was in fine form opening the batting, as he fell just five runs short of a spectacular century, hitting 95 from 45 balls including 6 sixes. This fine innings led the hosts to a narrow two wicket victory with just two balls remaining.
Ones to watch
Leicestershire will be relying on heavily on their skipper and all-rounder Josh Cobb, who so far this season has scored 267 runs at an average of 33, whilst he has also taken six wickets for his side. Another dangerous Leicestershire batsman is Greg Smith, who is the team’s leading run scorer with 315 runs at an average of 39, and includes a century which he hit against Nottinghamshire Outlaws.
There are no changes to the squad from last night.
Muhammad Azhar Ullah