Rob Keogh was the hero with the ball for Northamptonshire as they pulled off a tremendous defence of only 145 to beat Durham by 21 runs at Wantage Road and claim their second win in the Vitality Blast.
Sent in, the home side scrapped to a modest total but Alex Wakely’s unbeaten 47 in 35 balls gave them a score to defend. Keogh then took advantage of a pitch that gripped to take 3 for 30 – his career best T20 figures – as Durham could only make 124 for 8 in reply.
Northants realised there was help for the spinners and used 12 overs of slow bowling to strangle Durham in a way the visitors managed to do themselves until Wakely helped strike 19 from the final over.
Cobb opened the bowling and sent down four overs for only 12, Graeme White’s left-arm spin took 1 for 27 but it was Keogh who sealed victory with a fine spell.
He lured Alex Lees into swinging to long-on where Ashraf sprinted to his right, dived, and claimed a tremendous catch. Liam Trevaskis did likewise – this time the catch more comfortable – before Stuart Poynter reverse-swept to backward point.
Only Peter Handscomb kept Durham together with a 41-ball fifty. The required rate had leapt to 12-an-over before he lifted Keogh over extra-cover for the first boundary for eight overs and swept another wide of midwicket. He then powered White over his head to raise a half-century but despite his unbeaten 65 in 54 balls it was too great an ask.
Durham’s other Australian – D’Arcy Short – fell in the Powerplay as the visitors made only 33 for 3. Scott Steel scooped Ashraf to short-fine leg before the same bowler found Graham Clark’s inside edge. Short then miscued a pull off Sanderson to mid-on and Northants had the early wickets they needed.
The effort in the field proved Wakely innings to be match-winning knock as he clawed Northants to 145 for 6.
The visitors’ spinners were also very effective. Left-armer Liam Trevaskis opened the bowling and his four overs went for only 16 and D’Arcy Short’s four claimed 1 for 27.
Northants lost wickets in the Powerplay as Adam Rossington slapped Brydon Carse to cover-point before Josh Cobb pulled Matty Potts to deep-square. Keogh, promoted to number four to provide some stability, could only make 16 before he dragged Short into his stumps trying to pull.
Richard Levi finally made his seasonal T20 bow having recovered from a neck injury. He punched Carse for his first boundary over cover, flicked Potts backward of square and viscously pulled Nathan Rimmington. But having made a run-a-ball 29, slog-swept Steel to deep midwicket where Short claimed the catch, threw the ball in the air as he tumbled over the boundary, before stepping back into play and completing the dismissal. It left Northants 67 for 4 after 11 overs.
Dwaine Pretorius provided some impetus. He was twice dropped at deep midwicket – the second miss went for the night’s first six – and he took advantage to drive Rimmington inside long-off and guide another boundary past short-third man in the 17th over. But the third catch he offered to deep midwicket was finally held and he fell for 37 from 24 balls. Potts then took another wicket in the 18th over as Matt Coles lifted his second ball to long-on.
Wakely worked the bowling around to help cobble something together for Northants and his final over burst took the momentum into the second innings. He lifted Potts for a huge six over midwicket before driving to long-off where the fielder missed the ball and flicked the final delivery wide of long-on.
Wakely’s unbeaten 47 in 35 balls nudged the asking rate over seven-an-over and it proved a crucial innings.
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