Steelbacks aiming to hit top spot with Blast win over Bears

Northants Steelbacks will be aiming to quickly get back to winning ways in the Vitality Blast when they host Birmingham Bears at the County Ground on Wednesday night (start 6.30pm).

By Jeremy Casey
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 2:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 2:42 pm
Saif Zaib was in great form for the Steelbacks in their loss at Derby on Tuesday, hitting 92 (Picture: Peter Short)
Saif Zaib was in great form for the Steelbacks in their loss at Derby on Tuesday, hitting 92 (Picture: Peter Short)

A five-match unbeaten run was brought to a halt with a six-wicket defeat at Derbyshire Falcons on Tuesday night, a result that saw the Steelbacks slip to third in the North Group table.

But they will return to the top of the table with victory at Wantage Road against a Bears side that thrashed the Steelbacks on the opening night of the competition.

The Bears are currently in fourth, one place and two points beneath the Steelbacks, but they have played a game less.

With three matches remaining, it looks as though John Sadler's side still need to win two to guarantee they reach the quarter-finals, and they will be keen to set the record straight against the Bears.

The opening match at Edgbaston saw the Steelbacks hammered by 125 runs in a match reduced to just 16 overs per side, with former Northants man Paul Stirling hitting a brilliant 119 from 51 balls.

Stirling is again set to open the batting for the Bears on Wednesday, but he has struggled in recent matches, mustering just two runs in his past four innings - a run that has included three ducks.

The destructive Sam Hain is the man in form form for the Bears, having hit 123 not out and 73 not out in his past two innings. He also hit an unbeaten 66 in that early win over the Steelbacks.

Birmingham started the competition with three straight wins, but have won just three of the next seven – although they did smash a club record 261 for two in their win at Notts Outlaws last weekend.

Northants will go into the game high on confidence, having won five out of five at ‘fortress’ County Ground so far this season. They also have a good home record against the Bears.

The Steelbacks are likely to name an unchanged team to the one that lost to the Falcons.

Saif Zaib was the main man with the bat at Derby, hitting 92, as for once the top order failed to fire.

Tickets are still available for the clash against the Bears at the County Ground, which is also being shown live on Sky Sports.