Steelbacks denied victory chance by rain and bad light

TOP SCORER - Ben Duckett hit 39 not out
TOP SCORER - Ben Duckett hit 39 not out

Northants Steelbacks were left frustrated by rain and bad light as they were denied the chance to claim their second win in as many nights in the NatWest T20 Blast at Leicestershire Foxes.

The match at Grace Road was abandoned by the umpires with the Foxes 25 for two, chasing 101 to win, and just 11 balls before the Duckworth/Lewis method would have come into play to ensure a result.

There are no floodlights at Leicester and the light was poor, and although it was hardly great when Northants batted, it had got worse and umpires Nick Cook and Jeff Evans had decided the playing conditions had become dangerous.

The first problem was when rain caused a 90-minute delay to proceedings after the Steelbacks had played just seven balls of their innings, the match having started in light drizzle.

Play did resume with the match being reduced to an 11-overs-per-side encounter, with the County posting 98 for three, which was bumped up to 100 thanks to D/L.

The Foxes started their reply and going into the fourth over were 25 for one.

But when Mohammed Azharullah bowled Kevin O’Brien with his first ball of the match, the umpires decided enough was enough, and led the players off the field.

The Steelbacks players were clearly not happy with the decision, feeling the light had been just as poor for their innings, but their protests fell on deaf ears.

There was a further 25-minute delay before the game was officially abandoned.

The Steelbacks did well to post 98 for three in their 11 overs, which were disrupted as the players left the field due to rain with the County on eight without loss.

On resumption, Richard Levi and Josh Cobb struggled to get their timing and were dismissed in successive balls for 17 and 13 respectively trying to go for the big hit.

Levi was caught well on the boundary by Tom Wells, who had to run 20 yards to his right to take an excellent catch, and then Cobb smacked the ball straight to the same fielder in his position at mid-on.

Duckett was the surprise choice to come in at three, but where others struggled to see the ball, he had no such issues, scoring 39 from just 23 balls.

The 10th over was the highlight of the innings for the Steelbacks, with Duckett hitting two sixes and two fours to boost the total to 97 for three with an over remaining.

That over proved to be a bad one for Steelbacks, with Clint McKay bowling a maiden. The only run to come from it was a bye, with Shahid Afridi, who finished 11 not out, missing the first three balls as he clearly couldn’t see the ball in the gloom.

Still, with the D/L method coming into play thanks to that rain break, Foxes were set 101 to win in poor light that was fading further.

Rory Kleinveldt got things off to a dream start for Northants, dismissing Ned Eckersley with the first ball of the innings.

Eckersley edged a lifting delivery, and Wakely claimed the slip catch at the second attempt, before slipping over on the damp outfield.

O’Brien and Mark Cosgrove were going okay and hit a few meaty boundaries before Azharullah rearranged the former’s stumps with a full delivery, and that was it as far as the innings, and match was concerned.