NatWest T20 Blast: Northants beat Birmingham in low-scoring match
Last Updated: 03/07/14 10:28pm
Northamptonshire Steelbacks breathed life into their Natwest T20 Blast title defence with a 15-run defeat of the Birmingham Bears at Wantage Road.
Defending a modest 139-8, the home side restricted the visitors to 124-9 and the victory moves them to within two points of the North Group qualifying places.
In the Bears' chase, David Willey got rid of Varun Chopra early on and the dangerous William Porterfield followed shortly after when Willey notched a direct hit at the striker's end.
Jonathon Webb then charged James Middlebrook and missed but while Shoaib Malik and Rikki Clarke were at the wicket the Bears were still favourites and even at 60-3 with half the overs remaining they had their noses in front.
Two wickets for White in the space of three balls, Clarke driving to extra cover and Laurie Evans walking in front, dragged the Steelbacks right back into the contest - but with Malik in good touch and capable of comfortably hitting the ball out of the ground, the contest was up in the air.
And so it remained to the final over which arrived with the visitors needing an unlikely 20 runs for victory.
Jeetan Patel had struck a few meaty boundaries but he could not get on strike when he needed to and the task ended up being too difficult.
White to the rescue
Earlier, the home side had posted an under par total, with number nine Graeme White's 34 from 12 balls valuable.
When he came to the crease in the 17th over, the score was 90-7 - but in conjunction with Matt Spriegel, 50 were added in the final four overs to at least put up a defendable score.
It had all started particularly badly as Richard Levi went to the first ball of the game and when Willey, another of the trump cards, departed in the next over, things were not particularly rosy.
Loan signing Adam Rossington provided a brief glimpse of his ability before he became Jeetan Patel's first wicket - his 100th in Twenty20 cricket - and the off-spinner picked up two more as he applied the brake in the middle overs.
At the other end, Kyle Coetzer was struggling to get going and when he eventually fell his 40 had occupied 46 deliveries, the kind of strike rate that prevents an innings from flourishing.
Neither Steven Crook nor Ben Duckett could get going as they fell to Ateeq Javid and Patel respectively and when James Middlebrook lofted Chris Wright to long-on it looked as though 120 would be the limit of the hosts' ambitions.