A second successive half century from Richard Levi laid the platform for Northamptonshire to chase 195, their highest ever successful chase in t20 cricket, to beat Derbyshire off the penultimate ball and make it two wins from two at Wantage Road.
Levi hit three fours and four sixes in reaching 50 inside 26 balls, eventually falling for 58 off 37, and there were crucial contributions from Josh Cobb and Ben Duckett before Steven Crook’s unbeaten 33 guided Northants home in the final over.
Earlier Wes Durston and Chesney Hughes hit 47 and 46 respectively as the visitors composed what looked a challenging total but, just as in 2014 when they failed to defend 194 at Wantage Road, the Falcons left empty handed, despite Andy Carter’s three wickets and an impressive showing from Matt Critchley.
For Northants it was their second successful chase in a week, after reaching 168 in 18 overs against Leicestershire last week. Crook said it was an all-round team effort that had got the Steelbacks over the line.
“To chase nearly 200 is a great effort, all set up by Rich Levi up front. He came out and smoked it everywhere and some good contributions all the way down, we’re really pleased and we’re buzzing two from two.
“The advantage of having a really long order is we’ve got guys who can come in and strike really cleanly all the way to bottom. That’s one of our main attributes as a team and we’re over the moon to have chased 195 tonight.
“It was a good wicket. The grounds men have done an incredible job tonight, they came hard as us and played really well and we were fortunate to get off to a good start and carry on and knock them off.
“Normally we’re chasing the game a little bit but it’s good to set a stall out; to chase down two big totals early in the competition is fantastic and hopefully we can come out next week and put another big performance in.”
Just as his 61 had set up the chase at Grace Road, it was Levi’s flying start that got Northants ahead of the rate, at the Steelbacks raced to 71 from the powerplay, despite losing Adam Rossington for a seven ball 16 that included two fours and a six.
Levi kept going, however, hitting four sixes inside the first five overs, his trademark leg side power almost taking out the radio commentators with one hit that went into the top tier, sharing 90 with Josh Cobb for the second wicket.
Cobb played a handy supporting role of 35, sweeping a huge six off Alex Hughes before holing out off Critchley. The young leg spinner was easily the most impressive of Derbyshire’s bowling, taking 2-19 from three overs. His haul included the wicket of Levi, who was restricted to just singles after the power play before holing out at long-on. It was surprising that Critchley wasn’t given his final over.
With 64 required from 30 the game was on, but Duckett’s enterprising 29, which included scoops, flicks and a reserve sweep off Durston that went straight into the mobile burger van, put Northants in pole position.
Derbyshire kept their hopes alive as Carter accounted for Seekuage, Prasanna and Rory Kleinveldt, but Crook guided Northants home, with six boundaries in his unbeaten 24.
The Falcons had only beaten Northants once in eight attempts in T20, but looked well set to double that tally at the halfway point, after Durston and Hughes had laid the groundwork for their imposing total.
However the total could have been higher, but when looking well set for 200 plus at 140-3 midway through the 14th over, the visitors lost three wickets in four balls, with another following six balls later – a collapse that would prove costly in the end.
Derbyshire themselves had got off to a flyer, despite losing Hamish Rutherford for 10. Durston hit four fours and three sixes as they reached 65-1 from the power play, and were 107-1 at the halfway point before falling to 151-7.
In the end they were indebted to Tom Poynton, the wicketkeeper coming in at number nine and hitting a career best 37 not out, off just 21 balls, as Derbyshire took 22 from the final two overs. It would not prove enough.