Durham in a spin as Steelbacks secure vital victory

Alex Wakely was unbeaten on 47 (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Alex Wakely was unbeaten on 47 (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Rob Keogh took a career-best three for 30 as the Steelbacks produced a brilliant bowling display to beat Durham by 21 runs at the County Ground on Wednesday night.

An innings that didn't get going until the final over, when man of the match Alex Wakely (47no) helped his side to hit 19 runs, only gave Northants a total of 145 for six to defend after they lost the toss.

But it didn't matter as their bowlers did the business, with Keogh, Josh Cobb and Graeme White all suffocating Durham with spin.

All-action Pakistan pace ace Faheem Ashraf was also heavily involved as he took two for 26, while Ben Sanderson bagged two for 29.

Rob Keogh was bowled by D'Arcy Short

Rob Keogh was bowled by D'Arcy Short

It was a fielding performance that was the complete antithesis of the one the Steelbacks delivered in their six-wicket defeat to Derbyshire last Friday.

And it proved to be more than enough to earn a second Vitality Blast T20 North Group win of the season.

David Ripley's men now face a crucial away double-header, travelling to Leicestershire Foxes on Friday before going to Worcestershire Rapids two days later.

But they can board the bus with added belief following a big display in front of a decent-sized County Ground crowd.

The Steelbacks had been boosted before the start against Durham with big-hitting opener Richard Levi back in the side after recovering from a neck problem.

But the home side were to suffer an early blow at the other end as Adam Rossington, who had made two, was caught at point by Alex Lees from Brydon Carse's first delivery of the match.

It meant the Steelbacks were four for one with seven balls bowled and captain Cobb was then handed a huge reprieve as he was dropped at first slip by Peter Handscomb.

But Cobb wasn't so lucky in the next over as he was caught on the boundary off the bowling of Matt Potts for just five.

The Steelbacks were struggling to get going, with frustration being shown by some home supporters.

And there was another groan when Keogh bottom edged on to his own stumps off the bowling of D'Arcy Short for 16, leaving the Steelbacks 46 for three in the eighth over.

There were few signs of life until Scott Steel was introduced by Durham, and Northants opted to take the part-time bowler on, with Wakely immediately hitting him for four.

But Wakely was then dropped at cover by Graham Clark and Levi went next ball as Short took a fine catch on the boundary rope.

At 67 for four after 11 overs, Northants were under real pressure.

Short finished with one for 27 after seeing his side drop a simple catch off his bowling in his final over.

And Wakely and Dwaine Pretorius continued to play with fire as things didn't quite stick for Durham in the field.

But they were risks that needed to be taken and Pretorius was actually starting to play some slick shots to put some pressure back on the bowlers.

That was until he tried to go big and was caught on the deep midwicket boundary for 37 off the bowling of Potts.

The Steelbacks craved some extra acceleration with fewer than three overs to go, but Matt Coles was unable to make an impact as he holed out in the same over without scoring.

Wakely was still there and he smashed only the second six of the entire innings in the final over, from Potts.

The experienced batsman, who had been joined in the middle by Ashraf, helped the Steelbacks to take 19 runs from the last six deliveries to push Northants up to 145 for six.

Durham would have been confident in the chase, but the Steelbacks made a tidy start with the ball, and Steel was caught off Ashraf after trying to play a ramp shot.

Ashraf was in the wickets again soon after as his pace proved too much for Clark, who was caught behind without scoring.

The Steelbacks' Pakistan pace bowler was starting to excite the home supporters and he was rattling Durham.

Short was soon all at sea as he lofted one up off the bowling of Sanderson, and Cobb took an easy catch to ensure the Durham danger man would depart for just 13.

The away side finished the powerplay on 33 for three and Cobb, who had bowled two overs that conceded a total of just six runs, kept the shackles on them in the seventh over.

Durham were up against it, and it got worse for them when Ashraf took a sensational diving catch on the run from long on to dismiss Lees for four off the bowling of Keogh.

Keogh soon got his second thanks to another catch from Ashraf, who showed safe hands to get rid of Liam Trevaskis, who failed to find the power to reach the boundary.

Durham were 60 for five with nine overs to go, and Australia bastman Handscomb looked like their only hope.

Cobb finished his four overs having conceded a meagre 12 runs as the Steelbacks continued to suffocate their opponents.

Keogh claimed his third wicket of the night in the next over, having Stuart Poynter caught by Nathan Buck.

Handscomb was determined to keep going and he finally earned a couple of long-awaited boundaries off Keogh.

Keogh's bowling spell then came to an end, but his involvement didn't as he took a stunning catch to dismiss Jack Burnham off the bowling of Graeme White.

Handscomb reached his 50 soon after but Durham were well behind the rate and Sanderson dismissed Brydon Carse four balls from the end, with the away side still needing 25 runs.

And the Steelbacks easily closed it out to win by a hugely comfortable margin.

Steelbacks: Levi, Rossington (wk), Cobb (c), Wakely, Pretorius, Keogh, Coles, Ashraf, White, Buck, Sanderson.

Durham: Steel, Short, Clark, Burnham, Lees, Handscomb, Poynter (c, wk), Carse, Trevaskis, Potts, Rimmington.

Durham has plenty of reasons to celebrate during the Steelbacks innings

Durham has plenty of reasons to celebrate during the Steelbacks innings