Northants cruise to win amongst the Leeds drizzle

Northants cruise to win amongst the Leeds drizzle

Result: Northants Steelbacks 85/2 beat Yorkshire Vikings 82/7 (Afridi 3/15) by eight wickets (D/L method), at Headingley

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Shahid Afridi ensured he would sign off his spell with the Steelbacks in style

Northants put in a dominant performance to thrash Yorkshire by eight wickets in a rain-affected match at Headingley, reaching their target of 83 from 12 overs with 26 balls to spare. The Steelbacks needed only 46 balls to record victory, Richard Levi hitting 35 before Ben Duckett finished the job with an unbeaten 31 from just 13 balls.

Northants controlled a one-sided contest throughout, and, having removed the dangerous duo of Aaron Finch and Glen Maxwell for five and two respectively, never looked back, Shahid Afridi taking 3-15 in the final appearance of his spell at the Club.

The win moves Northants to within a point of the quarter-final places in the North Group after getting their campaign back on track with two wins in four days this week, in addition to the point for Friday night’s abandoned clash at Leicester.

Northants head coach David Ripley thought his side dominated the entire contest, and was delighted with his side’s performance against a star-studded Yorkshire side.

“We played really well from the first ball to the last and we played good aggressive cricket,” Ripley said. “We came in and hit the pitch hard with the ball, took our catches and it was just a top performance. It would be great to play like that every week.

“Obviously they’re big players [Finch and Maxwell], world-class t20 players. If you get them out, you end up with [Gary] Ballance and [Johnny] Bairstow, so they’re a fine side and it’s how well we played right through the game.

“Although it’s only a 12 over game we almost dominated it for its entirety and that doesn’t happen very often in this format of cricket. We wanted to be positive [in the run chase], we knew Yorkshire would come out trying to get the crowd behind them and get on a roll, so it was important we blunted that and we did it in some style.”

Finch was making his first appearance for Yorkshire having missed the start of the campaign via injury, and hit the first ball of the match for four, but then chipped a slower ball bouncer from Olly Stone straight to midwicket in the second over

Maxwell followed from Kleinveldt’s third over, driving straight to Josh Cobb, who was standing in as captain in the absence of Alex Wakely, at cover, Andrew Gale (seven) also picking Cobb out, this time with a pull shot off Mohammed Azharullah to leave the hosts 20-3.

Johnny Bairstow and Gary Balance staged a slight recovery with a partnership of 35 either side of another short rain delay, but departed in successive balls as Northants took a full grip of the contest.

Bairstow skied a catch to Rob Keogh at deep point for 23 from Azharullah, who took 2-24, before Ballance, who had swept Afridi for six in his 16, tried to repeat the shot but only succeeded in giving Cobb a third catch on the midwicket boundary.

It was three wickets in three balls as Jack Leaning was LBW to Afridi first ball, the Pakistan international finishing with 3-15 from three overs when Richard Pyrah was bowled, and despite Tim Bresnan hitting Azharullah for six in the final over, a total of 83 from 12 overs never looked enough.

So it proved as Northants made light work of the run chase as despite losing stand-in skipper Cobb for a single in the second over, edging Bresnan to slip whist driving, 35 runs came from the third and fourth overs to all but end any chances Yorkshire had.

Levi hit his second six off Pyrah but fell for a 21 ball 35 at the start of the sixth over, James Middlebrook trapping him LBW with his first ball in t20 colours for Yorkshire following his release by Northants last year.

It would only be the briefest of setbacks in Northants’ progress though, as Afridi sent his first delivery flying over long-on for six, finishing his spell at the County with an unbeaten 14 from nine balls.

The Steelbacks ensured their net run-rate would get a sizeable boost as they finished the job four balls into the eighth over, Afridi driving Middlebrook for four, before Duckett sealed the win in style, launching a six high over mid-on as he ended 31 not out from just 13 deliveries.

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