Northampton epic finishes in tie
Twenty20 Cup holders Somerset came within a whisker of a shock defeat as an unbeaten half-century from Usman Afzaal saw Northamptonshire claim a tie at Wantage Road..
Just two days ago Somerset posted a world record Twenty20 score of 250 for three against Gloucestershire.
However, it was a different story tonight as a devastating eight-over spell from Steelbacks spinners Monty Panesar and Jason Brown restricted the big-hitting Sabres to just 151 for nine.
In reply, Northants should have claimed a surprise win, but needing just two off the final ball, Andrew White was only able to scamper a single off former England pace bowler Richard Johnson.
Somerset openers Matthew Wood and Justin Langer raced out of the blocks, hitting Matt Nicholson for three fours from his first over.
The pair continued their onslaught, charging to 51 in 30 balls before Langer tried one drive too many and was caught by David Sales at long on off Brown.
The champions' early charge was slowed further when Wood was stumped off the bowling of England star Panesar with only his fourth ball of the match.
Panesar continued to frustrate the Somerset batsmen and quickly claimed his second wicket when Sales caught dangerman Cameron White at deep long on.
Nicholson then teamed up with Andrew White to run out youngster James Hildreth for just a single to leave Somerset precariously placed on 82 for four.
Veteran all-rounder Keith Parsons did his best to rejuvenate Somerset but when partner Wesley Durston was caught in the deep off part-time bowler Afzaal the home side sniffed an upset.
Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly then claimed the wicket of Arul Suppiah, claiming his middle stump with a smart delivery. Parsons was next out, edging Ganguly to Phillips, giving the Indian his second wicket of the match.
The Sabres collapse continued when Nicholson caught Carl Gazzard at short third man off Afzaal, and that was followed by the dismissal of John Francis, who was caught by Lance Klusener slogging Brown.
Afzaal and Ganguly opened in style for Northants but soon their blossoming partnership ground to a premature halt with the score at 19 without loss.
Ganguly edged South African seamer Charl Willoughby's delivery to wicketkeeper Gazzard sparking a top-order collapse.
The Sabres managed to claim a further three wickets in 12 balls for just two runs as Northants capitulated.
Skipper Sales followed Ganguly back to the pavilion, caught by Suppiah off Johnson's well-pitched delivery.
Bilal Shafayat was caught behind off Johnson first ball and South African Riki Wessels was the fourth wicket, edging to Gazzard off the bowling of Willoughby, leaving the score on 21 for four.
The Steelbacks clawed their way past 50 in the 11th over before Klusener was run out by Australian Langer.
His dismissal brought Phillips to the crease and he flexed his muscles in smashing three fours and three sixes to reach 37 in just 20 balls. After slogging his team back into the match, Phillips then misjudged a Suppiah delivery and was comprehensively bowled.
Afzaal brought up his 50 driving a Willoughby delivery through the covers for a boundary to keep Northants within touching distance of a famous win.
With Afzaal and White at the crease the Steelbacks needed nine runs from the last over to beat the champions.
White could only manage a single off Johnson's final ball to tie the match, leaving Afzaal left stranded on 64 not out.