Levi laps up the runs as Steelbacks stun Foxes

Northants Steelbacks saw off Leicestershire Foxes on Sunday (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Northants Steelbacks saw off Leicestershire Foxes on Sunday (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

A stunning 67 from just 28 balls from South African star Richard Levi steered Northants Steelbacks to a superb nine-wicket win against Leicestershire Foxes on Sunday.

The NatWest T20 Blast clash at the County Ground was reduced to just 10 overs per side after rain had threatened to ruin the chances of a result.

And Levi showed his star quality as he helped the Steelbacks hunt down an imposing 112-run victory target with nine balls to spare.

Grant Elliott had earlier hit 56 from 29 deliveries as Leicestershire looked well placed to win the game on 111 for four.

But Levi had other ideas, letting fly with alarming regularity to ensure David Ripley’s men secured their sixth win in 11 games in the T20 this season.

They remain third in the North Group, one point behind Worcestershire Rapids, who currently sit in a home quarter-final berth.

Crucially, the Steelbacks are now three points clear of fifth, with the top four in the North Group and South Group qualifying for the last eight.

Ripley’s side have three more games to play in the group stages, starting with a home match against Yorkshire Vikings on Friday night.

They go into that in buoyant mood thanks to Levi, who teamed up with Josh Cobb in the formative stages of the Steelbacks’ reply.

Former Foxes batsman Cobb struck five fours in the third before holing out to long-on.

The wicket mattered not as Levi and Ben Duckett guided the Steelbacks home remarkably comfortably in a stand of 65 in 30 balls.

Levi was typically strong off his legs and took 20 off the fifth over as the Foxes failed to find any way to contain the 27-year-old, who passed 50 in 19 deliveries, and by the halfway stage the target was reduced to just 37 from 30.

Australian seamer Clint McKay was surprisingly kept back until the seventh over but by that stage, the damage was done and there was time for a Duckett scoop and two beautifully-placed cover drives before Levi completed the chase with his ninth four.

It was a fine conclusion to an afternoon blighted by rain. An initial 19-over match from 2.45pm was revised by another shower and, when play did get underway at 4.50pm, Leicestershire posted what looked like a strong total of 111 for four thanks to Elliott.

His first boundaries came via thick inside edges but he quickly found the pace of the wicket, stepping across his stumps to paddle sweep Steven Crook for four and he lifted a similar, better timed, stroke for six as Olly Stone returned in the seventh over. A Crook full-toss was also heaved over the leg side.

In the final over, Elliott flicked two into the leg side to go to a half-century in just 26 balls before driving Muhammad Azharullah for four over mid-off. His innings included four fours and three sixes.

He was ably supported by Ben Raine, who swept his first ball for six over midwicket and sent a bigger sweep over the same region in the sixth over. But he struck only one more boundary as his 19-ball knock featured some sharp running and he shared a stand of 76 in 39 deliveries with Elliott.

It was a fine rally having lost three wickets in the opening three overs. After a long rain delay, Leicestershire suffered a poor start with Aadil Ali bowled off an inside edge via his pad third ball and Ned Eckersley top-edged a pull to mid-off in the second over.

When Mark Cosgrove departed two overs later, Leicestershire looked in trouble but recovered very smartly.

However, it was not backed up in the second innings as Levi led the Steelbacks to victory.