Vitality Blast 2019
Fri 26 July, 18:30

The County Ground, Northampton

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Northamptonshire Steelbacks

Northamptonshire Steelbacks

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Northamptonshire Steelbacks

Bears

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Blast 19 Report: Bears @ Steelbacks

Keogh’s was a well-paced innings and just his first T20 half-century, neatly in his 50th match. He shared an important partnership of 84 for the fourth-wicket with Alex Wakely, who took their side the final over of the Powerplay to 120 for 4 in the 17th over.

He steered Ashton Agar’s left-arm spin past short-third man before cutting another boundary past extra-cover. He stepped down the wicket to lift the same bowler down the ground onto the roof of the Spencer Pavilion for the evening’s first six – and just the fourth in his T20 career – and a nudged two through midwicket brought him fifty in 42 balls. He struck a sixth four in the final over, straight driving Jeetan Patel.

Wakely,
after two failures, twice reverse-swept Patel past short-third man, cut Agar
through the covers and also pulled the Bear’s captain between two fielders in
the deep on the leg-side but miscued a pull in Edwards’ final over to be caught
and bowled for 38.

Initially,
Northants’ batting followed a familiar pattern with early wickets going down.
Ben Curran, playing his first T20 of the season, skied an attempted drive
against Fidel Edwards to cover point before Henry Brookes took two wickets from
the Wilson End. A nasty lifter took an edge from Josh Cobb through to Michael
Burgess before Adam Rossington slapped to extra-cover to fall for 13 in the
sixth over.

But
Keogh and Wakely got Northants stuck into the innings and gave the hitters a
chance in the final overs. Dwaine Pretorius sliced a cut over backward point
but hoisted James Wainman, on his Bears T20 debut, to deep midwicket where Sam
Hain judged a tremendous catch. Matt Coles arrived and swing his second ball
over deep midwicket for six before brutally slamming Patel over his head for
four in the final over.

Rain
arrived to extend the interval and the revised chase began in perfect fashion
for the home side as Ed Pollock slapped the first ball of the reply, from Ben
Sanderson, straight to cover. But Michael Burgess gave the chase a bright start
with 18 in 13 balls, pulling Coles for a flat six wide of deep square and
driving Faheem Ashraf fiercely past point for four. But trying to utilise the
last over of the Powerplay, skied a pull against Nathan Buck and was held at
extra-cover.

Sam
Hain, following his 85 in 61 balls against Derbyshire, again looked in good
touch and pulled and cut Ashraf for boundaries before late-cutting Coles past
short-third man. 

Adam
Hose skipped down to lift Graeme White into the sight-screen but a tight over
from Buck left 75 needed from 48 balls. Hain responded by lifting Sanderson
over mid-off for four before pulling White into the hands of deep midwicket.

Suddenly
the required rate was into double figures and Agar lifted Buck over long-on and
pulled Ashraf for four but swung past the next delivery and was bowled for 17. 

36 were required from the final three overs and Ashraf sent down a superb over for just four runs and yorked Hose for 31, leaving 32 from 12. Sanderson cleaned up Will Rhodes in the penultimate over before Pretorius defended 26 from the final six deliveries with ease.

Blast 19 Preview: Bears @ Steelbacks

But first-team coach Jim Troughton, while delighted with the back-to-back wins that has sprung his side to the top of the North Group, insists that the Bears are well aware that is still “early days.”

It is all about getting momentum at the right time but if we start putting good things into place now and get guys into form it can only be good for us.

Jim Troughton

Plenty of
tough tests lie ahead starting with four away games next. The Bears’ campaign now
enters a road-trip phase with tomorrow’s visit to Northampton  followed by further away games at Notts
Outlaws (August 2), Yorkshire Vikings (August 4) and Leicestershire (August 7)
before returning to Edgbaston against the Outlaws on August 9.

The Steelbacks,
with whom the Bears have shared some titanic T20 duels over the years, will be
dangerous opposition as ever at Wantage Road tomorrow night. But with excellent
wins banked against Leicestershire Foxes and Derbyshire Falcons this week,
Troughton’s men will make the short trip with confidence high.

“It is
good to get off to a strong start in the group and of course it is nice to have
points on the board,” he said. “But it is early days in the group, we
know that.

“It is
all about getting momentum at the right time but if we start putting good
things into place now and get guys into form it can only be good for us. If the
batters can dovetail like they have and the bowlers continue to find the right
areas as they have then hopefully it will be a good tournament for us.”

So far in
the group, the Bears have been impressive in all departments of the game, not
least in the bowling where Jeetan Patel and Ashton Agar have really shown their
class. The two spinners have delivered a combined 16-0-88-5 while paceman Fidel
Edwards has started his loan spell from Hampshire in the most spectacular
fashion with six wickets at 8.50 runs apiece in his first two games.

“Fidel has been fantastic for us,” said Troughton. “To take early wickets is always brilliant for a team and he knows his game and bowls with pace, short and full, and gives us lots of options. He is a class act.”

Live scorecard

The match live scorecard will appear here once the match is in play.

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