High-flying Steelbacks targeting a winning week on the road in the Blast

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This week has been the calm before the Vitality Blast storm...

The Steelbacks players were able to enjoy some down time following last Friday's thrilling final-ball win over Worcestershire Rapids at the County Ground.

They have been back at Wantage Road this week, training ahead of a trip to Derbyshire Falcons on Friday night (7pm) that kicks off a hectic week on the road for David Willey's team.

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The Falcons clash is followed by a trip to New Road on Sunday afternoon for a quick return clash with the Rapids, before a trip to Edgbaston on Thursday to take on the Birmingham Bears.

Saif Zaib celebrates claiming thw wicket of former team-mate Tom Taylor in Friday's win over Worcestershire Rapids (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Saif Zaib celebrates claiming thw wicket of former team-mate Tom Taylor in Friday's win over Worcestershire Rapids (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Saif Zaib celebrates claiming thw wicket of former team-mate Tom Taylor in Friday's win over Worcestershire Rapids (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

A busy run of four days in the space of eight days ends with another home Friday night under the lights on June 21 when the Steelbacks entertain neighbours Leicestershire Foxes.

With three wins from their opening four North Group matches, the Steelbacks currently sit second in the table.

And know that if they have a good week ahead of the break for a return to a two-match block of County Championship cricket from June 23, they could be geeting pretty close to qualification for the last eight.

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And that is certainly the team's target according to all-rounder Saif Zaib.

"We are raring to go, and everyone's in good form," said Zaib.

"There is somebody like George Bartlett who hasn't even batted yet, and we still have Lewis McManus in the hut.

"We have a really, really good and talented team, so hopefully we can get through these next few games and qualify as quickly as we can."

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Pace bowler Raphy Weatherall grabbed a lot of the headlines following last Friday's win over the Rapids thanks to his stunning final over that ensured the visitors couldn't score the 11 runs they needed to win.

But it was Zaib who was the star man overall, hitting a superb 44 not out from just 21 balls to lift his side from 90 for four in the 16th over to what proved to be a matchwinning 169 for four, and then claiming three for 20 from his four overs.

And the 26-year-old was pleased to have made his mark in this season's competition.

"I am always delighted to contribute to a win," said Zaib, who is now remarkably in his 10th season as a Northants player.

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"I haven't scored too many runs this year, so when I do I want to make it count and I want to be a proven match winner for the team."

"I have very high standards for myself, I always want to score runs, I always want to take wickets, and always want to take a blinding catch.

"But one thing that Sikandar (Raza) has said to me is if you can influence three or four matches in any way, in any competition, then you have done your job.

"You can't score runs every single game, or take wickets every game.

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"But as long as you are doing something to help the team, even if it is going in and hitting a 14 off five or six balls, then it does go a long way towards helping the team."

The Steelbacks will be aiming for a quickfire double over Derbyshire on Friday, having beaten the same team by five wickets off the final ball in a thrilling competition opener at the County Ground on May 30.