Duckett delivers again as Steelbacks defeat Durham
Ben Duckett blasted a superb 72 as Northants got their NatWest T20 Blast campaign up and running with a six-wicket win at Durham Jets.
Duckett's heroics helped the Steelbacks bounce back after last Friday's disappointing seven-wicket home defeat to Derbyshire Falcons.
David Ripley's men hunted down Durham's 161 for seven, in which Rory Kleinveldt (3-28), Tabraiz Shamsi (2-20) and Ben Sanderson (2-26) impressed.
Adam Rossington and Josh Cobb went early in the Northants reply, but Duckett steadied the ship, alongside Alex Wakely, who hit 27.
Duckett and Wakely did fall in quick succession to provide a slightly nervy finish, but Steven Crook notched six runs and Rob Keogh a quickfire 20 to win it for the Steelbacks.
Just as he did in last year's T20 final win against Durham, Keogh hit the winning runs as the arch chasers got the job done.
Captain Wakely had lost the toss last Friday, meaning Northants had to bat first, but he was more fortunate this time, calling it right and electing to field.
Northants had chased down 154 to beat Durham in last season's final at Edgbaston and the Steelbacks started well at Chester-le Street.
Sanderson dismissed Graham Clark in the second over, with Cobb taking the catch at short fine-leg.
The Cobb-Sanderson combination soon claimed another victim as Adam Hickey found the hands of the former as he went for 15.
Michael Richardson helped Durham to rebuild, but he was to go for 25 as Shamsi claimed his first Steelbacks wicket, having the batsman caught behind.
Jack Burnham should also have fallen to South Africa spinner Shamsi, but Graeme White dropped the catch running round from long-off.
Durham made the most of that escape as Burnham and Paul Collingwood started to step things up, taking 17 runs from Cobb's first over.
The Durham duo reached their 50 partnership, giving their side a platform to build on at 126 for three with five overs remaining.
But Shamsi was bowling superbly and he got rid of Collingwood, having him caught by the safe hands of Cobb for 38.
The Steelbacks were fighting back and Kleinveldt claimed two wickets in as many balls towards the end of the 17th over.
He had Paul Coughlin caught by White for four before bowling Stuart Poynter first ball.
There was to be no hat-trick for Kleinveldt as Ryan Pringle claimed a single from the first ball of the 19th over.
But Kleinveldt did dismiss Pringle soon after as the batsman chipped a delivery to Crook at mid-off.
Burnham did manage to stick around until the end, finishing unbeaten on 53 with Durham concluding their innings on 161 for seven.
There was a big let-off for Rossington early in the Steelbacks chase as Richardson dropped a simple catch at mid-on.
Rossington looked ready to make Richardson pay as he hit a six and a four, but the opener was soon out, being caught off the bowling of James Weighell for 14.
The Steelbacks finished the powerplay on 41 for one, with Duckett and Cobb beginning the form a partnership.
But Cobb, whose 80 off 48 balls helped Northants defeat Durham in last season's final, was to go for 15 as Coughlin had him caught by Weighell on the boundary.
Duckett wasn't to be shifted though, with the England man registering his second half-century in as many T20 games this season.
Wakely was playing smartly, too, as the Steelbacks looked set to cruise to victory.
But Duckett was eventually dismissed with Northants needing 29 runs from the final 20 balls.
Keogh was the new batsman, needing to support Wakely's efforts to get the Steelbacks over the line.
But Wakely wouldn't stick around for long as he was caught on the long square-leg boundary off the bowling of Weighell for 27.
That meant the Steelbacks had two fresh batsmen in, with Keogh and Crook needing to shoulder the responsibility of securing the victory.
Crook hit the final ball of the penultimate over for four, meaning the Steelbacks would need six runs from the last over.
And Keogh made light work of the task, registering a two and a four from the first two balls to secure the Steelbacks' first success of this season's T20 competition.
Durham Jets: Hickey, Clark, Richardson, Burnham, Collingwood, Coughlin (c), Pringle, Arshad, Poynter (wk), Weighell, Rushworth.
Steelbacks: Duckett, Rossington (wk), Cobb, Wakely (c), Keogh, Crook, Kleinveldt, White, Sanderson, Shamsi, Gleeson.