Northants take spoils in Wantage Road thriller

Northants take spoils in Wantage Road thriller

Northants 169-5 (20 overs, Cobb 47) beat Lancashire 165-8 (20 overs, Faulkner 73, Azharullah 3-28) by four runs.

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James Faulkner smashed 73 off 45 balls but it would prove in vain as Northamptonshire clung on to win a thrilling contest by four runs off the final ball at Wantage Road.

Chasing 170 to win, Lancashire had looked in trouble at 55-4 in the ninth over, but Faulkner smashed three fours and four sixes in his innings that took the visitors to the brink of victory. With five needed from the final ball he caught only sky a return catch to Muhammed Azharullah.

Earlier Josh Cobb had hit 47 to get the Northants innings off to a flying start, but the hosts were pegged back before late cameos from Steven Crook and Adam Rossington. The total of 169-7, However, would prove just enough for a third win in four, while for Lancashire it was a second defeat in two days.

“It was a great game of t20 cricket, went right to the last ball,” said Northants coach David Ripley. “In general we deserved the win, I think we were on top for more passages of play but when James Faulkner’s in he’s one of the best in the world in that format. Towards the end of the innings he clears the ropes comfortably.

“We got out of the blocks well with the bat maybe stumbled a bit. I think 180 would have been par but it looked like we might win comfortably at one stage but James Faulkner had other ideas and made it a very tense night for us.”

Ripley’s side are now up to fifth in the North group after taking seven points from their last four games in nine days. Ahead of back to back trips to Worcester and Nottingham next weekend, Ripley is pleased his side is continuing their momentum.

“We’ve played better cricket, that was the main thing. The first game we weren’t so good, then the next two games we were good for half the game and since then we’ve played pretty well throughout the whole of the match. We’ve won three, so now our job is to keep that going as long as we can.

A crowd of approximately 4,800 packed into Wantage Road, Northants highest since their quarter final against Durham back in 2013 They were treated to a thrilling contest thanks to Faulkner’s belligerent hitting.

Chasing a score that was only par on a good surface with short boundaries, Liam Livingstone got the hosts off to a flyer with 22. Regular wickets fell in the opening nine overs, however, including those of Ashwell Prince, Karl Brown and Steven Croft. The required rate was pushing ten by the time Faulkner was joined by Alex Davies.

Together the pair shared 91 as the young wicket keeper providing the perfect support for the big Australian, who opened his sixes account by clubbing Josh Cobb out of the ground.

Graeme White had yet to bowl for Northants in the competition, but in Shahid Afridi’s absence the left arm spinner stepped up to the mark. He did not concede a boundary in his four overs, which cost just 23 and included the wicket of Croft.

White’s spell meant 73 were required from six overs, but Faulkner hit Kleinveldt for six over long-on before Crook went for back to back maximums, the first of which just cleared White on the midwicket boundary, to reach a 27 ball half century.

Davies hit Azharullah for three consecutive boundaries at the start of the 18th, to bring Lancs to within 24 of victory, before being bowled for 34 off 24 balls.

Jordan Clark came and went, but as Faulkner needed 14 off the final over Azharullah held his nerve. Despite a scooped four, five were required off the last ball. Faulkner was only able to send it skywards to give Azharullah the return catch.

The Northants innings got off to a good start with Cobb leading the way by striking seven fours inside the opening five overs. Northants raced to 50-0.

Lancashire’s spin trio of Steve Parry, Aaron Lilley and skipper Croft stopped the hosts in their tracks as only 27 came from the next five. Cobb and Levi fell within three balls to Parry, who took 2-25, second over.

Despite Steven Crook taking Croft for consecutive sixes, 11 consecutive overs of spin cost just 78, with the further wicket of Ben Duckett. As the pace returned, however, so did the boundaries. 41 came from the final four overs.

Faulkner’s two death overs cost just ten, including the wicket of Crook, who hit 27 off 16. Adam Rossington staged a further cameo with 24 off 10, and Saqib Mahmood and Tom Bailey went for 15 and 16 respectively from the other two.

Northants captain Alex Wakely anchored the hosts innings with 36 from 34 balls and, after the birth of his first child this week, had plenty more to celebrate. Although he may be set for sleepless nights, it won’t be due to the revived form of his side.

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