Northamptonshire Steelbacks captain Josh Cobb struck 70 from just 44 balls, his highest score of this Vitality Blast season to help his side chase down 152 and earn a five wicket victory over Derbyshire Falcons with 11 balls to spare.
Cobb, deprived of opportunities this season by Chris Lynn’s power hitting, picked up the mantle after the Australian fell to a rare first ball duck. Playing a belligerent innings, he struck six fours and three maximums before Rob Keogh took the Steelbacks over the line.
Earlier Tom Taylor took three wickets in an over as the Steelbacks’ bowlers restricted Derbyshire Falcons to a modest total. Wayne Masden was the only batter to offer any real resistance with 37.
The Falcons were kept to 40 for two at the end of the powerplay. Luis Reece swung one high over deep midwicket in the first over but Taylor and Ben Sanderson applied the brakes, backed up well by some sharp Steelbacks fielding.
Reece attempted to up the scoring rate but miscued a big shot against Taylor and offered a steepler of a catch to Neesham at midwicket. Masood fell shortly afterwards to an astonishing running catch by Keogh on the boundary at backward square off Sanderson.
Hayden Kerr (29 off 22 balls), promoted to number three, looked assured and put on 39 for the third wicket with Leus du Plooy (19). Any hope of building a big total fell away though when the Falcons lost three wickets for 16 runs in as many balls to stutter to 80 for five at the end of the twelfth over.
First du Plooy hit Freddie Heldreich straight to Taylor on the long-off boundary before Kerr holed out at deep midwicket off Jimmy Neesham. Brooke Guest then gave Heldreich his second scalp caught at point.
The Falcons went four overs before scoring another boundary as Wayne Madsen and Alex Hughes rebuilt.
Madsen survived two tough chances off Sanderson but Taylor struck back in the next over. First he removed both set batsmen who fell to catches by Cobb at cover before knocking back Mattie McKiernan’s stumps. Taylor finished with career best figures of 4/27 from his four, continuing a strong start to the competition with the ball.
With a run out off the last ball courtesy of some excellent White fielding, the Falcons finished on 151 for nine.
An expectant Wantage Road crowd were momentarily hushed when Chris Lynn, fresh from his heroics in the previous two Steelbacks home games, edged behind off the first ball of the chase bowled by Kerr.
Cobb though started aggressively, clubbing Kerr over mid off and then cutting him for consecutive boundaries. He slog swept George Scrimshaw over deep midwicket for six and hit Watt down the ground for another to take the Steelbacks to 53 for one at the end of the powerplay.
He had put on 55 with Ben Curran before his partner fell to a catch behind square off Scrimshaw when Conners took a well judged catch sliding on his knees to get to the ball. Saif Zaib added six before he gloved a catch behind off an attempted pull shot.
Cobb meanwhile advanced to his half century reaching the landmark off 31 balls. He continued in belligerent fashion crunching the ball through the covers and playing some deft cut shots before finally falling off to Conners at deep point off Scrimshaw to leave the Steelbacks on 102 for four in the 13th over.
Jimmy Neesham hit 20 before he fell to a catch at long-on but Keogh held his nerve, passing 1,000 career runs and finishing with an undefeated 28 off 24 deliveries.