Northamptonshire booked their place in the quarter finals of the Natwest t20 Blast after a near perfect batting display saw them beat the Birmingham Bears by 74 runs at Wantage Road, Graeme White taking a hat-trick to seal the win.
Adam Rossington’s 85 got the Steelbacks off to a flyer, before Alex Wakely hit a 20 ball half century to take his side to 200-5, their second highest total in t20 at Wantage Road.
"Sam Hain also hit four fours in his run a ball 22 but after a promising opening stand of 60"
Ian Bell’s classy 62 led the chase, but was he was fifth man out, the Bears spectacularly collapsing in the face of an ever rising required rate, six wickets falling for seven runs at one stage, including White’s treble, as the visitors were dismissed for 126.
After Rossington’s career best, his 85 coming from 51 deliveries in a county record opening stand of 103 with Richard Levi, the Northants innings looked to be faltering as four wickets fell in as many overs before Wakely’s 53 from 23 helped take 68 from the final five to reach the magical 200 mark.
Rossington exploding into life with four consecutive boundaries off Oliver Hannon-Dalby from the final over of the powerplay, then taking the attack to the spinners, Josh Poysden hit into the upper tier of the old pavilion in passing 50 in 29 balls, before two further maximums came off Atiq Javid.
Levi had contributed 31 to the century stand, but fell in the 11th over, brilliantly caught at long-on by Sam Hain diving backwards, sparking a mini collapse, as Josh Cobb edged his first delivery behind off Aaron Thomason, who then ended Rossington’s knock, caught at long-on, and the platform he has set looked like it might have been wasted when Seekkuge Prasanna holed out off his second ball.
However Wakely’s remarkable burst ensured that wasn’t the case, the Northants’ skippers scored 12 from his first 10 deliveries, but was raising hit bat 10 balls later, taking Clarke was two fours and a six in the 18th over before pulling consecutive sixes off Keith Barker.
The Birmingham Bears were left seeking a record run chase, and Bell was soon as his fluent best after surviving an early life, Prasanna failing to cling onto a sharp chance at fine leg, the ball going for four to spark a run of six boundaries in seven balls as both the third and fourth overs cost 17.
Sam Hain also hit four fours in his run a ball 22 but after a promising opening stand of 60, the match turned in the hosts favours as Kleinveldt had Hain caught at fine leg, and Matthew Wade edged the next delivery to slip.
"Birmingham will have to wait to seal their quarter final place."
Bell went to his half century off 30 balls, but tight bowling saw the required rate up to 12 an over at the halfway stage with 121 still required, and the pressure told as Laurie Evans was bowled trying to swing Prasanna into the leg side.
Clarke added 19 with Bell, but when both fell to consecutive deliveries, the game was up, Evans stumped attempting to reverse sweep Prasanna, four balls after Rossington had missed an earlier stumping attempt, before Bell’s classy innings ended as he top edged a slog sweep off Graeme White.
The Bears fell in a heap after that, with seven wickets falling in 15 balls, White taking a hat-trick that happened so fast most inside the ground missed it.
Javid was trapped LBW from the last ball of White’s 14th over , and after Prasanna has Thomason stumped in the next, White returned to see Patel well caught by Richard Gleeson at mid-on, before Keith Barker charged first ball and was stumped.
White finished with 4-20, the PA having to announce the hat-trick to the crowd, and the end quickly followed, Hannon-Dalby last man out, Kleinveldt also claiming 3-14, as the Steelbacks moved closer to a home tie, whilst Birmingham will have to wait to seal their quarter final place.
Last Home Game
We play our final group game vs Notts Outlaws on Friday 22 July at 7pm. With the NatWest T20 Blast north group still wide open there is still everything to play for in our final match of the season. Do not miss this game because it promises to be a belter.