Levi century sets up a Steelbacks success

FOUR WICKETS - David Willey
FOUR WICKETS - David Willey
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A stunning century from Richard Levi set the platform for a good Northamptonshire Steelbacks win over Gloucestershire in the Friends Life t20.

The South African made 110 from just 62 balls and hit 15 fours and four sixes as he put the home bowlers to the sword on a run-friendly ground.

But the victory was not as easy as it might have been as some determined Gloucestershire batting dragged them to within 17 runs from a once forlorn position.

Aided by Steven Crook’s 27 from 12 balls, Levi helped the Steelbacks put on 64 in the last four overs and made a respectable 142 a hugely imposing 206.

It was still only half a job done, though.

An excellent opening spell from David Willey, that at one stage saw him with figures of 3-5, set the Gloucestershire chase back from the very start.

With consolidation essential, and tight Northamptonshire bowling restricting them, the hosts gradually slipped further and further behind.

But Alex Gidman hit 49 from 19 balls and Ian Cockbain 60 from 47 to make the Northamptonshire pulses race a little more than was at one stage likely.

Nevertheless Levi was the man.

His batting was calm. Despite his big score there was never any desperation hitting or unnecessary slogs.

With Alex Wakely (35 from 24 ball) putting together a composed knock at the other end and rotating the strike with ease, Levi was able to pick his balls to hit.

And when he did it was highly effective.

Then, accompanied by Crook, the acceleration at the end ensured a small mountain needed climbing in the response.

It looked unlikely when Willey (4-1-25-4) removed the top three.

But the beauty of Twenty20 cricket is that the unlikely can happen.

As Gidman and then Cockbain teed off, the run rate of around 16 per over was continually met - with Mohammad Azharullah (4-0-49-1)suffering the most - and Gloucestershire were still clinging on.

It was always just too much to ask, though, and with 28 needed from the final over, Lee Daggett went for just six off the first five balls to finally bring some calm.

The last ball went for four but the games was up.

And, justly, it stayed as Levi’s game.