Josh Cobb’s 86 set Northants Steelbacks on course for their first win in the Royal London One-Day Cup, alongside Olly Stone’s three wicket burst as they beat Leicestershire by 54 runs at Wantage Road.
Cobb hit 86, with good support in the form of Rob Keogh’s half century and although a middle order collapse saw them waste a good position to post 244-9. It would prove enough as Stone took three wickets in 14 balls to reduce the Foxes to 7-3.
Ned Eckersley made 71 for the visitors, but Stone’s early wickets meant Northants were in control though, and Steven Crook took 3-38 as Leicestershire were bowled out for 189, the county picking up their first win of the competition at the third attempt.
After losing their opening two games, including a 220 run hamming by Surrey on Monday, Northants once again got off to a stuttering start after stand in captain David Willey opted to bat first upon winning the toss.
Richard Levi was bowled by Clint McKay in the third over for four, and Adam Rossington edged his second ball behind to leave the Steelbacks 7-2 before Cobb and Ben Duckett, batting at four in Alex Wakely absence, steadied the innings, adding 80 for the third wicket
In form Duckett had hit consecutive one-day fifties and looked in good touch for his 30, having lifted Rob Sayer for six over long-on, but having been dropped off the same bowler, he tried to go big off Luke Wells and skied a catch to mid-off.
Cobb continued his steady progress, completing a 68 ball half century and in Keogh found another willing partner as the pair negotiated the middle overs with few alarms but having set a good platform, the Steelbacks wasted that with another middle order collapse.
After being 176-3 with 15 overs remaining they went on to lose six wickets for 43 runs after Cobb, who hit 10 boundaries in his 110 ball innings, was trapped LBW by Shreck.
Keogh competed his half century, coming in 52 balls, four deliveries later, but couldn’t add to his score before he was smartly stumped by Northants old boy Niall O’Brien off Ben Raine.
Just when they would have been looking to kick on, the Steelbacks stumbled as Willey drove Sayers straight to cover, Crook found the hands of deep midwicket for ten, and Rory Klenveldt was bowled.
Seventeen-year-old Saif Zaib was making his competitive debut for Northants and made a bright 16 before being bowled by Raine, but the last pair of Graeme White and Stone added 25 in the final 19 deliveries, Stone with two fours and a six in the final over to drag Northants up to 244-9.
With a below par score on the board they needed early wickets and Stone delivered exactly that as after being driven for four by Angus Robson, found the edge with his fourth, and in the following over Mark Cosgrove slashed at a wide one to be caught at the wicket without score.
Stone, who had previously taken three wickets in 12 one-day games, doubled his career tally with his 14th delivery removing Aadil Ali’s middle stump to reduce the visitors to 7-3, Rory Kleinveldt backing him up at the other end with four maidens in his first five overs, which cost just a single.
Eckersley and O’Brien rebuilt the innings with a stand of 76 in 18 overs, Northants continuing to bowl tightly until O’Brien tried to cut Steven Crook and edged behind for 34.
Eckersley never got into his full stride, but anchored the Foxes innings, adding another 63 with Luke Wells to keep the visitors hopes alive, with 109 required from the final 15 overs, Wells flicking Willey for six.
However just when the Steelbacks needed it, Crook returned to remove both inside the 37th over, first Eckersley chipping a simple catch to midwicket before Wells was LBW for 25.
After his earlier tight spell, Kleinveldt got a deserved wicket as Rob Sayers edged to slip, before debutant Michael Burgess charged Graeme White and was bowled for 13.
Ben Raine clubbed 24 off 16 balls but by that stage it was too little too late and he slapped Willey to cover, before White wrapped things up taking a diving catch running backwards off his own bowling off Charlie Shreck.