White smashes Steelbacks to victory
Opener Rob White smashed an unbeaten 94 from 57-balls to maintain Northants Steelbacks stunning start to the Twenty20 Cup.
The Steelbacks 100% record was on the line when they slipped to 61 for four in reply to the Gloucestershire Gladiators 170 to seven but White saw them home with ten balls to spare.
Hamish Marshall's 33-ball 59 had earlier been the highlight of the Gladiators innings but with White in such inspired form it was never going to be enough.
The Gladiators overcame the early loss of Craig Spearman, who was forced to retire hurt after a Johannes van der Wath delivery smashed into his helmet and caused a nasty gash, to make a bright start.
New Zealander Marshall was joined by debutant Jackson Thompson and they had taken the score to 88 before Thompson (22) was trapped lbw by Nicky Boje's off-spin.
The Steelbacks skipper soon sent Marshall - who had struck ten fours - on his way when he had him caught behind by Niall O'Brien.
But Chris Taylor and Marcus North continued where Marshall had left off with North smashing Boje for two successive sixes.
Van der Wath eventually had North caught behind by O'Brien for 30 before Andrew Hall had Mark Hardinges caught on the boundary by Van der Wath.
Taylor had got to 20 when he was brilliantly caught and bowled by Johann Louw and the South African paceman had another wicket with his next ball when he bowled Ian Fisher.
Gloucester captain Jon Lewis then ran himself out after a mix-up with Steve Adshead and it took two Will Rudge boundaries in the last over to get the visitors up to 170.
Northants reply began brightly thanks to O'Brien blasting three boundaries in Steve Kirby's second over but the bowler had the last laugh when he trapped him lbw for 18.
All-rounder Hall then departed for 11, caught behind by Adshead off Rudge, and David Sales hit his first ball for four before Rudge had him adjudged lbw with the very next delivery.
And when Riki Wessels went for one in the next over after Taylor held-on to a sharp chance at backward point off Hardinges the Steelbacks had slipped to 61 for four.
But White - who took his time to play himself in - and Boje steadied the ship to help Northants past the 100 mark with White moving to 50 from 35-balls, which included two sixes.
However, once he was past his half-century White slipped through the gears and smashed the Gloucestershire attack to all parts.
Boje (27 not out) was happy to give the opener the strike and he saw his side home with a succession of lusty blows and his unbeaten knock included eight fours and three sixes.