Gleeson and Cobb star as Steelbacks complete double over Foxes

Richard Gleeson claimed three wickets (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Richard Gleeson claimed three wickets (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Some superb bowling from Richard Gleeson set Northants Steelbacks up to do a NatWest T20 Blast double over Leicestershire Foxes at the County Ground on Sunday afternoon.

Gleeson claimed three wickets for the loss of just 20 runs in an impressive four-over stint that prevented the Foxes from getting the kind of total they needed.

The Steelbacks easily chased down the 150 runs they needed for victory, eventually winning by six wickets, with former Leicestershire batsman Josh Cobb a key man in the innings.

Cobb cracked 57 from 46 balls in his 100th T20 appearance, while opener Adam Rossington was also in fine form as he made 50 from 30 deliveries.

The victory sent the Steelbacks back to the top of the North Group, above Birmingham Bears on run rate.

Those two teams will meet at Edgbaston on Friday, with both having won five of their opening seven T20 fixtures this season.

The Steelbacks had been confident of getting the job done against Leicestershire, who they beat at Grace Road on the opening night back in May.

Alex Wakely won the toss, electing to field as Northants, who were boosted by the return from injury of South African opener Richard Levi, have shown themselves to be strong chasers in the competition so far this season.

And they got off to a good start with the ball as Gleeson struck with the first ball of the second over.

The pace bowler forced Mark Cosgrove to chop the ball onto his own stumps, departing for just two to leave the Foxes six for one.

Moin Ashraf was keeping it tight at the other end, and Gleeson was to get another wicket with the first ball of his second over.

Cameron Delport was the victim, edging the ball onto his stumps to leave the Foxes 17 for two.

Leicestershire needed some respite and it came in the fifth over as they took 17 from the bowling of Muhammad Azharullah.

The Foxes suddenly started to tick along nicely, with Mark Pettini and Kevin O’Brien taking control.

But the Steelbacks eventually broke the partnership, which was worth 74, as Cobb had O’Brien caught by Graeme White for 29 in the 12th over.

And White was to get a wicket of his own soon after, trapping Foxes skipper Pettini LBW for 56 from 39 balls.

The Foxes found themselves halted just as they needed to make the most of their momentum and, with four overs left they were 118 for four.

The Steelbacks then proceeded to keep it tight, with Ashraf and Gleeson stopping the Foxes from finding the boundaries they desperately wanted.

Paul Horton had made 29 before he was forced to retire hurt after being struck by a Gleeson no ball in the final over.

The Foxes just could not get the ball away and Lewis Hill was also to depart before the end as Gleeson got his third wicket of the game.

It left the Steelbacks needing 150 to win and they got off to a flying start as Levi helped himself to three fours from the first over.

But the South African opener was to depart in the second over as he was caught in the deep off the bowling of Clint McKay.

Cobb came in and played superbly as he inflicted some serious damage on Rob Taylor, who shipped 35 runs from his three overs.

The Steelbacks were 54 for one after a productive powerplay and Cobb and Rossington continued to cruise, making their way to 93 for one at the halfway stage.

Rossington reached his half-century from just 29 balls, but he was bowled in the next over, by Cosgrove.

But Cobb kept control and reached his 50 from just 40 balls, making it back-to-back T20 half-centuries for the batsman.

Ben Duckett, who had made a tidy 20 from 16 balls, was to exit proceedings before the end as he was caught by O’Brien off the bowling of Delport.

Cobb also went as Delport claimed his second wicket of the match, but the Steelbacks got home soon after as Wakely hit a full toss for four to cap a convincing success.

Steelbacks: Levi, Rossington, Cobb, Duckett, Wakely (c), Crook, Keogh, White, Gleeson, Azharullah, Ashraf.

Leicestershire Foxes: Pettini (c), Cosgrove, Delport, K O’Brien, Hill, Horton, Wells, Dexter, Taylor, McKay, Naik.