Steelbacks aiming to break T20 duck as they host in-form Birmingham Bears

Steelbacks all-rounder Faheem Ashraf
Steelbacks all-rounder Faheem Ashraf

Northants Steelbacks will be aiming to get their Vitality T20 Blast campaign up and running when they take on in-form Birmingham Bears at the County Ground on Friday night (6.30pm start).

David Ripley's men have suffered defeats in their opening two matches on the road, going down by seven runs at Durham Jets last Friday and then by seven wickets at Notts Outlaws on Wednesday.

They take on a Bears side who are the early leaders of the North section, having claimed two wins and a no result from their three fixtures to date.

Their two wins saw them see of Derbyshire Falcons by 49 runs and Leicestershire Foxes by seven wickets.

West Indian fast bowler Fidel Edwards, who is on loan from Hampshire, leads their attack.

He has taken six wickets in two matches, while spinners Jeetan Patel and Ashton Agar have proved influential so far.

Bears coach Jim Troughton is stil expecting a tough test at the County Ground, ,and in the past the sides have always been evenly matched - with their group match at Edgbaston last summer ending in a world record breaking tie, which both teams scoring 231 for five.

“It is good to get off to a strong start in the group and of course it is nice to have points on the board, but it is early days in the group, we know that," said Troughton..

“It is all about getting momentum at the right time but if we start putting good things into place now and get guys into form it can only be good for us.

"If the batters can dovetail like they have and the bowlers continue to find the right areas as they have then hopefully it will be a good tournament for us.”

Friday's match is the first of two home games in the space of three days for the Steelbacks, who also host Yorkshire Vikings on Sunday.

The Bears clash will be the first chance for the home supporters to see new overseas players Faheem Ashraf and Dwaine Pretorious in action, but there is no place in the squad for batsmen Richard Levi or Richardo Vasconcelos who are both injured.

Northants squad: Ashraf, Buck, Cobb, Coles, Curran, Keogh, Pretorious, Procter, Rossington, Sanderson, Sole, Thurston, Wakely, White.

Bears team (likely): Pollock, Burgess, Hain, Agar, Hose, Rhodes, Banks, Thomson, Patel, Brookes, Edwards.