Northamptonshire all-rounder Saif Zaib starred in front of the TV cameras, plundering an unbeaten 44 off just 21 balls and bagging three wickets for 20 runs as the Steelbacks won by six runs against over Worcestershire Rapids in a Vitality Blast thriller at Wantage Road.

Zaib smashed six fours and two sixes, to propel Steelbacks to 169 for four, sharing an unbeaten stand of 79 in six overs with Sikander Raza (42*) to help his side recover from a mini collapse.

Raphael Weatherall bowled an immense over with incredible pressure on his shoulders but kept his nerve to see the Steelbacks through.

In the chase, the visitors slumped to 120 for eight in the 16th over before an extraordinary cameo from Gareth Roderick almost won the game. Blasting 39 off just 22 balls (1×4, 3×6), his highest T20 score, Roderick took the game to the wire with Worcestershire needing 11 off the final six balls. But Raphy Weatherall, bowling a brilliant final over, held his nerve, conceding just four runs and ending Roderick’s resistance.

Amidst action, Steelbacks captain and former England all-rounder David Willey took his 300th career T20 wicket.

Earlier Matthew Breetzke (26) struck Bashir for back-to-back sixes in the second over, the first into the board room bar in the Spencer Pavilion. Ricardo Vasconcelos (28) too was soon into the action, taking consecutive boundaries off Adam Finch.

Nathan Smith pegged things back with five dot balls, but Vasconcelos found the ropes twice in the sixth over off former teammate Tom Taylor, including a ramp over the keeper’s head as the Steelbacks finished the powerplay on 47 without loss.

After that solid start, Northamptonshire lost three wickets for 14 runs in 17 balls, stuttering to 63 for three.

First Vasconcelos missed an attempted pull against Hayden Walsh and was bowled. Next Breetzke (26) looked to continue his six-hitting spree against Bashir, getting one away to take the Steelbacks past 50, before picking out deep midwicket. Finally Bashir grabbed a second wicket when he had Willey caught at long-off.

Ravi Bopara (18) fought back, powering Walsh through cover before miscuing a strike down the ground off Finch, Taylor taking a running catch.

That brought Zaib and Raza together in a blaze of boundaries. Raza muscled Brett D’Oliveira twice over deep midwicket. Particularly strong on the drive, Zaib powered Bashir and Taylor through cover and reverse swept Bashir for four.

The twentieth over from Smith proved most costly. Zaib smashed two sixes and with Raza top-edging another, the Rapids conceded 21.

Zaib struck quickly when Worcestershire batted, removing D’Oliveira in the third over as he hit straight to mid-off.

Ed Pollock top edged Willey for four and then crunched him through the covers before he swung and missed and was bowled. Two balls later Ben Sanderson had Matthew Waite caught behind as Worcestershire finished the powerplay on a precarious 39 for three.

Ethan Brookes (24) and Adam Hose steadied the ship, putting on 38 in just over four overs before Brookes was pinned lbw when Bopara bowled a knuckleball.

Adam Hose posed a big threat, hitting a four and six off left-arm spinner Freddie Heldreich’s first over, before smiting a huge six off a free hit from Bopara. It took a world-class effort from Raza to remove Hose with a brilliant diving boundary catch when the batter smashed Zaib down the ground.

Zaib then bowled Taylor off his pads before Heldreich (2-22) had Smith caught by a diving Sanderson and bowled Walsh later in the over. If it all seemed over, no-one told Roderick though, setting up that final over thriller.

19-year-old Raphael Weatherall bowled his first over of the game with the Rapids needing 11 to win dealt brilliantly with the pressure and leading the Steelbacks to victory by six runs.