Northants pip Durham to win the 2016 NatWest T20 Blast

Northants pip Durham to win the 2016 NatWest T20 Blast

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The prediction was that it would be Nottinghamshire’s day but it wasn’t, it was Northants’. In an all North Group Finals Day, the southern-most team came out on top.

For the second time no less. First they struck and snatched their way past Notts in the semi-final as they were asked to set a total and then successfully defended it and then, losing the toss again, were asked to chase a total down which they also did successfully.

The catches – all seven of them – were the crucial game-changers in their semi-final as Notts crumbled in the shadow of a 162-run target but contributions with the bat from Ben Duckett in the semi-final and captain Alex Wakely and Josh Cobb in the final cannot be ignored.

Durham came straight into the final having beaten Yorkshire in their semi-final and, despite having a shortened break between the semi-final and final, got off to the perfect start as Paul Collingwood won the toss and elected to bat.

It was Keaton Jennings’ turn to play the key role and he struck a brilliant 88 from 58 (with five fours and four sixes) to record the highest individual score in a T20 final. It has to be said though, that from a Durham perspective, there were very few contributions from anyone else – it was well and truly a one-man show.

Northants late-comer Ben Sanderson recorded 3-31 from his four overs while Rory Kleinveldt contributed 2-40 to help his team along and, since the side who batted first in the two semis recorded wins and no team has won this T20 competition batting second in eight years, it looked like 153-8 was very much defendable.

It became all the more likely when Durham took the ball and in a blur of wickets and overs, had Northants in real strife at 9-3 from 2.2 and Duckett back in the hutch.

But then came Cobb and Wakely. If ever a captain led from the front, it was today. The pair put on an almost record – it came second only to their very own Duckett/Wakely combo from their semi-final – partnership of 120 runs to take the score up to 129-3 after 18 overs.

That was the point at which Wakely would find himself run out thanks to a brilliant direct hit from Ben Stokes. After this partnership was broken with the score 129-4, Northants would make getting the remaining 35 runs look like a lot of hard work.

They had 31 balls to do it in but Cobb would fall for a brilliant and match-winning 80 from 48 balls, including three sixes and ten fours with the score on 148 – just six needed for the win from 13 balls!

He wasn’t the last either. The tension inside Edgbaston had reached fever pitch by this point. Northants on the cusp but dropping wickets like they did in the first over. Steven Crook would follow his captain’s example and be run out, summoning Kleinveldt to join Rob Keogh at the crease and face the last nine balls.

Keogh would ultimately be the man to strike Usman Arshad to the boundary for four when just three were needed to secure Northants’ second T20 Trophy.

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