Steelbacks bow out of Blast after defeat at Lightning

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Northamptonshire Steelbacks saw the curtain come down on their Vitality T20 Blast campaign after suffering a six-wicket defeat at Lancashire Lightning on Sunday.

The Steelbacks went into the game at Emirates Old Trafford knowing they needed to win while hoping for home defeats for North Group rivals Nottinghamshire Outlaws and Derbyshire Falcons.

But while the Falcons were beaten by Worcestershire Rapids by 28 runs, the Outlaws saw off Leicestershire Foxes by four runs.

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And Northants couldn't keep their end of the bargain anyway as they were comfortably beaten by Lightning, who chased down the Steelbacks' 138 for seven with 3.2 overs to spare.

David Willey's men suffered defeat at Lancashire Lightning on Sunday afternoon (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)David Willey's men suffered defeat at Lancashire Lightning on Sunday afternoon (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Willey's men suffered defeat at Lancashire Lightning on Sunday afternoon (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It meant John Sadler’s side finished seventh of nine teams in the North Group, having won just six of their 14 matches.

Birmingham Bears, Worcestershire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire were the teams who qualified after finishing in the top four.

The Steelbacks had headed to Emirates Old Trafford hoping to snatch the final qualification spot, but they lost the toss and were put into bat by Lightning.

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A fine opening spell of two for 14 from three overs by Luke Wood put Northants on the back foot at the start of their innings.

Ricardo Vasconcelos was brilliantly caught for 12 by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler diving to his left, followed by Emilio Gay who chipped Wood to Luke Wells at mid-on two balls later.

Northants then suffered a big blow when David Willey departed for 10, attempting to hit Liam Livingstone over midwicket, to leave the Steelbacks struggling on 47 for three midway through the seventh over.

Chris Lynn led an initial fightback, launching Livingstone for consecutive sixes in the ninth over, but he was then bowled for 35 aiming a big heave at Wells with the visitors on 74 for four, one ball into the 11th over.

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Saif Zaib pulled Daryl Mitchell to Wells at fine leg for 12 and the Steelbacks only managed to get any impetus into their innings during a 40-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Lewis McManus and Justin Broad.

McManus hoisted a slower ball from Tom Bailey into the hands of Wood at long-on having made 22, while Broad smashed a six over midwicket in his unbeaten 34 off 26 balls.

Wood (3-17) returned to bowl AJ Tye for one as Northants closed on 138 for seven.

The Steelbacks struck two early blows as the hosts set off in pursuit of their target, Buttler cracking a short ball from Willey to Zaib on the cover boundary for 11 before Steven Croft swiftly followed after top edging Tom Taylor to Tye for 5.

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That meant Lightning ended the powerplay on 43 for two but opener Phil Salt picked up the scoring with a six off Freddie Heidreich during a 35-run partnership in five overs with Livingstone.

Livingstone, the stand-in Lightning skipper, went for 11, slicing Taylor to Vasconcelos at gully as Lancashire reached halfway on 74 for three, but Mitchell was quickly into his stride, driving Taylor for six into the pavilion seats.

Salt continued to score freely as the hosts reduced their target to a-run-a-ball 44 before a mix-up saw Mitchell run out for 17.

Undeterred, Salt reached a 40-ball half century by smashing Tye for six over long-on, and then took four, six, four off Broad in the 15th over as Lightning raced towards their target.

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Salt ended the contest in style with six off Taylor in the 17th over to finish unbeaten on a Lancashire-best 74 alongside Dane Vilas (10 not out).

The result means the Lightning will return to Emirates Old Trafford, where they are now unbeaten in 21 home games, to host their quarter-final tie against Surrey on Friday. but Northants will go no further.