A disappointing Vitality Blast campaign for the Steelbacks in the Vitality Blast at least ended on a high note as they avenged their opening-day defeat at the hands of the Leicestershire with a comprehensive win at Grace Road.
Chasing 149 to win, the Steelbacks got home with nine balls to spare. Ben Duckett made 33 off 24 balls, including an audacious scoop for six off pace bowler Zak Chappell, after Ben Curran had caught the eye.
Curran celebrated the contract he was awarded at the County Ground earlier this week with a bright 29 off just 18 balls, taking four boundaries in an over off Chappell. His striking in a 50-run partnership with Ben Duckett was key in the Steelbacks racing to 63-1 in the powerplay, giving themselves a platform they did not waste.
Josh Cobb made a run-a-ball 30 and, after a wobble in which four wickets fell in three overs as Dieter Klein dismissed both Wakely and Cobb in the space of six ball without conceding a run, Graeme White finished the job with 21 off nine deliveries, winning the match by clubbing Colin Ackermann’s off-spin for six over deep midwicket as off-spinner Tom Sole kept his nerve on his Vitality Blast debut at the other end.
Having put the Foxes in, the Steelbacks made a fine start with the ball, reducing the home side to 35-3 in the powerplay, the hosts losing Eckersley, Harry Swindells and Ackermann inside the first six overs.
A smart piece of work by Duckett behind the stumps to take advantage as Chappell stumbled as he swung at a wide delivery as Wakely introduced Graeme White’s left-arm spin left the Foxes 37-4 in the seventh.
It came down to 21-year-old Harry Dearden to rescue the Foxes’ innings, at least in part, sharing a stand of 62 with Ateeq Javid for the fifth wicket on the way to a 40-ball 61 that included a couple of sixes and five fours.
Dearden, who has plenty of first-class experience but was making his debut in this format, might have added a few more but for bowler Richard Gleeson’s quick thinking, the bowler running him out in his follow-through as he tried to steal a single from a miscued shot by Lewis Hall that landed halfway down the pitch.