Bad start for Steelbacks as they slip to seven-run T20 defeat at Durham Jets
Northants Steelbacks got their Vitality T20 Blast campaign off to a losing start as they went down by seven runs to Durham Jets at the Emirates Riverside.
David Ripley's men bowled tightly to restrict the home side to 148 for four in their 20 overs, but the batsmen struggled in reply.
Opener Adam Rossington hit 47 and then Rob Keogh 30 not out from 22 balls at the death, but too many batters fell far too cheaply as Steelbacks hit back with 141 for nine.
On an overcast evening, the Steelbacks made an excellent start with the ball.
New skipper Josh Cobb opened the bowling with his off-spin, and before the six-over powerplay was up Northants had used five different bowlers.
The others were Ben Sanderson, FahimAshraf, Matt Coles and Dwaine Pretorious, and they kep things very tight as the Jets hit just three fours on their way to 29 without loss.
A sixth bowler was then introduced in left-arm Graeme White as the Steelbacks really mixed things up early on, but White's over went for 11 as the home side upped the run-rate.
Durham openers D'Arcy Short and Scott Steel put on 69 before the former was dismissed by Whie for 46 from 40 balls, and it was 102 for two when White also got Steel out for 37 from 36 balls.
The foundation had been laid by the home side, but it was slow going as Northants' bowlers kept turning the screw.
A late cameo of 19 from 11 balls from Stuart Poynter was a boost for the Jets, who closed on 148 for four from their 20 overs.
For the Steelbacks, all the bowlers kept it relatively tight, and there were wickets for Sanderson and Ashraf, his first in County colours, while White ended with two for 36 from his four overs.
Charlie Thurston and Adam Rossington opened up for the Steelbacks, but the partnership didn't last long as Thurston was dismissed for 3, and he was quickly followed by Cobb and Coles as the County slumped to 23 for three.
Rossington and Wakely launched a mini recovery to take Steelbacks to 58 for three before the latter fell for eight, and when Rossington was dismissed for a breezy 47, the County were in trouble at 72 for five with 8.3 overs remaining.
Pretorious hit a quickfire 19 before he perished, and Ashraf made just one before getting hismelf out as the Steelbacks looked down and out at 93 for seven.
Tom Sole hit a 40-ball century in a T20 warm-up earlier in the week, but he couldn't replicate that on the big stage as he went for just eight to leave Northants teetering on 104 for eight in the 16th over.
With Rob Keogh and White at the crease, the Steelbacks went into the final three overs needing 31, so it was a big asak, but far from impossible.
The pair scored 11 off the 18th to whittle that down to 20 runs from two,
The 19th was a poor one for Steelbacks as they were restricted to just five runs, meaning 15 was requird off the final over, bowled by Matthew Potts who had conceded just four runs from his first two overs, taking two wickets in the process.
Keogh edged the first ball of that final over for a boundary to third man, then the pair scampered a single before White wasa run out off the third.
That left the Steelbacks needing 10 runs from the final three balls, with last man Sanderson on strike.
He took a single off his first ball to leave Keogh on strike, with nine needed from two.
Keogh needed to hit two boundaries, but he could only slice the ball away for a single off the first of those, and Sanderson failed to connect with the final ball to leave the Steelbacks as losers by seven runs.
Keogh ended on 30 not out from 22 balls, but it was a disappointing result for David Ripley's men.
The Steelbacks are back in action on Wednesday night when they travel to Trent Bridge to take on Notts Outlaws.