Pretorius and Sanderson star but Steelbacks' clash with Foxes ruined by rain

Dwaine Pretorius was in the wickets at Grace Road (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Dwaine Pretorius was in the wickets at Grace Road (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

The Steelbacks were left to rue the rain as the weather forced their Vitality T20 Blast North Group match at Leicestershire Foxes to be abandoned on Friday night.

The Foxes had been seeking to stretch their recent run of form to four wins from five, but Northants were in a strong position to thwart their ambitions after restricting the home side to 137 for nine.

Josh Cobb and Faheem Ashraf were part of a big bowling effort

Josh Cobb and Faheem Ashraf were part of a big bowling effort

Seamers Ben Sanderson took four for 28 and Dwaine Pretorius three for 17 respectively, while Faheem Ashraf and off-spinner Josh Cobb each conceded fewer than five runs an over.

But rain intervened with the Steelbacks sitting at 16 without loss after 2.4 overs of the reply.

And with five overs needing to be bowled in each innings for a result to be possible, the match ended with both sides taking a point apiece.

Leicestershire, who won the toss and opted to bat, had made a stuttering start, losing two wickets in the first three overs.

Dwaine Pretorius gave it his all

Dwaine Pretorius gave it his all

Harry Swindells edged behind as he made room to cut and Arron Lilley sliced to backward point.

Mark Cosgrove found the boundary twice in the fifth over but Ashraf conceded just a single in the sixth before the first shower of the evening drove the players off with the Foxes 31 for two.

The delay was short enough to leave the scheduled overs unaltered, after which Harry Dearden, on nine, had some luck when Matt Coles not only dropped a relatively routine catch at long-on but palmed the ball over the rope for the first maximum of the night.

But just five boundaries in the first 10 overs left Leicestershire with plenty to do to post a competitive total, thanks in no small part to four overs of restrictive off-spin by Cobb, who conceded only 17 runs and just six in the powerplay.

The third-wicket pair nonetheless had built themselves a platform, but no sooner did they try to accelerate the scoring than they were parted, Dearden stumped as he missed a reverse-sweep.

He and Cosgrove had added 64 from 55 balls, but the latter was soon following him back in as South African all-rounder Pretorius knocked back his middle and off-stumps.

A second attempt to up the run-rate was checked by two more wickets in a good spell by Pretorius, who took a low return catch to remove Lewis Hill and bowled Colin Ackermann.

Sanderson then capped a below-par effort from the Foxes by taking three wickets in his last two overs.

But for some sloppy outfielding, the Steelbacks might have given themselves even fewer to chase, yet 138 was a modest target nonetheless.

To their frustration, however, after a shower interrupted their reply after one over, a prolonged spell of rain brought play to a halt again after the resumption had lasted just 10 deliveries.

A result would have been possible with 14 more balls bowled, but conditions did not allow even that.

The Steelbacks, who beat Durham by 21 runs on Wednesday night, now head to Worcestershire Rapids for a televised fixture on Sunday afternoon.

Leicestershire Foxes: Cosgrove, Swindells, Lilley, Dearden, Ackermann (c), Hill (wk), Ali, Klein, Parkinson, Davis, Griffiths.

Steelbacks: Levi, Rossington (wk), Cobb (c), Wakely, Pretorius, Sole, Ashraf, White, Coles, Buck, Sanderson.