Leicestershire’s faint hopes of reaching the quarter-final stages of the NatWest T20 Blast, were all but extinguished when rain denied them a great chance of victory against the Steelbacks at Grace Road.
Frustratingly for the Foxes, they had produced their best performance in the field in the competition this season by bowling out the Steelbacks for 82 runs in 16.2 overs.
Then the rain swept in, and the game was abandoned without another ball being bowled. Umpires, Steve Garratt and Nigel Llong, waited as long as they could before making the decision but, after an 8.05pm inspection, it was clear that even the required minimum of five overs to make it a match would not be possible.
It was a blow to the home side who, with only two victories from their previous eight games, needed to win their final six to have a realistic chance of finishing in the top four of the North Group. This would almost certainly have provided them with one of those wins.
Even in a five-overs runs chase they would have been favourites to reach a victory target of 27 under the Duckworth-Lewis method. For the Steelbacks, the defending champions, the one point picked up from this no-result keeps them in contention. They have nine points with four games remaining.
But after beating Birmingham Bears 24 hours earlier, the Steelbacks were blown away by the Foxes seam bowlers on a helpful, green looking pitch that had good carry and bounce.
Only three batsmen, Kyle Coetzer, Steven Crook and James Middlebrook reached double figures and the innings contained just seven fours and a six.
Charlie Shreck, Anthony Ireland and Ben Raine all took three wickets, while Scott Styris had Ben Duckett caught behind by wicketkeeper, Niall O’Brien with the second ball of the first over he has bowled in the competition this season.
O’Brien took five catches – a record for Leicestershire in Twenty20 cricket. It also equalled the domestic record for dismissals by a wicketkeeper. The Steelbacks’ total of 82 was their second lowest in the competition. They were bowled out for 47 by Durham in 2011.
Next up for the Steelbacks in the NatWest T20 Blast is Derbyshire on Friday night, at home at the County Ground, click here to purchase tickets.