Petersen coolly ends Steelbacks’ promising start

Kyle Coetzer made 32 at the top of the order for the Steelbacks
Kyle Coetzer made 32 at the top of the order for the Steelbacks

Northamptonshire’s impressive start to the Friends Life t20 came to an end as they went down to Somerset by six wickets at Taunton.

The Steelbacks were made to pay for their effort with the bat which provided the home side with a target they overhauled in the 19th over thanks to a superbly-paced half-century from Alviro Petersen.

A ridiculously scheduled Championship game now brings a halt to the circus which resumes next Sunday when Glamorgan come to the County Ground.

With two comprehensive wins under their belt, there was never likely to be a change of approach once Alex Wakely had won the toss.

The Taunton ground, small with a decent pitch and an extremely slick outfield lends itself to fairly substantial totals in all three formats of the game - the hosts successfully chased down 190 against Gloucestershire on Friday - and the County were definitely under par with their effort of 152-7.

A meagre return from the six-over powerplay, 29-1, and in turn the first 10 overs, 63-3, was the result of some accurate bowling and a couple of fairly soft dismissals.

A maiden first up from Yasir Arafat set the tone and Richard Levi fell in the next over as he lobbed Alfonso Thomas to mid-on.

Struggling to consistently pierce the infield, both Cameron White and Alex Wakely fell in identical fashion as they drove Craig Meschede and Max Waller respectively to cover.

When Kyle Coetzer lofted Steve Kirby to long-on the score was a sickly-appearing 65-4 and in need of a serious kick up the backside.

That arrived in the shape of David Willey who, with a mixture of brute force and nice improvisation, steered a course towards something respectable.

Matt Spriegel provided good support in a fifth-wicket stand of 54 before Ben Duckett, brought into replace the rested Andrew Hall, took 10 off the last two Thomas deliveries to push the total past 150.

Early wickets never do any harm and getting rid of the dangerous Marcus Trescothick, as David Willey did from the fourth ball of the innings as he was neatly taken at a wide slip, was the ideal start.

The hosts were only marginally ahead when the fielding restrictions were lifted as they too found it hard to get the ball away and the introduction of spin loomed as where the contest would be decided.

Craig Kieswetter, who had untypically scratched around, picked out long-on to give Willey a second wicket and at the midway point the target had been reduced to 93 from 60 balls.

It is scenarios like this where setting a score is advantageous to chasing as every couple of balls without a boundary visibly increases the pressure a notch.

That intensified when Graeme White hit Peter Trego in front and Petersen, just as he was getting into his stride, shafted James Hildreth out of sight as he was run out by a mile.

But with 39 needed from four overs, Petersen pressed the accelerator at just the right moment, passing a 29-ball 50 in the process, to the extent that the winning line was crossed with seven balls to spare.