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Steelbacks kept hopes alive

The Northants Steelbacks kept alive their hopes of a place in the last eight of the Twenty20 Cup with a nervy four-wicket win over unbeaten Warwickshire Bears.

The Steelbacks - whose campaign has been blighted by the weather - were in trouble at 46 for four chasing the required 101 to win but a fifth-wicket stand of 45 between Chris Rogers and Riki Wessels proved the difference.

Northants must now win their remaining game against Somerset on Friday to stand a chance of making the quarter-finals.

A short shower at the 5.30pm start reduced the match to 18-overs per side but after winning the toss Northants skipper David Sales had no hesitation in asking the visitors to bat.

Pinch-hitter Neil Carter smashed Steven Crook's second ball over mid-wicket for six but the Steelbacks all-rounder had the last laugh two balls later when Carter found Rogers at cover.

Fellow opening bowler Johan van der Wath then got in on the act when he captured the prize wicket of Twenty20 star Darren Maddy, lbw for just one.

And when Jim Troughton fell to David Lucas for 14 Warwickshire were on the rack at 35 for three. Tim Ambrose and Alex Loudon mounted a recovery by adding 29 for the fourth wicket before off-spinner Jason Brown had Loudon stumped by Riki Wessels for 18.

Crook returned to grab the wicket of Heath Streak but Brown turned the screw when Ambrose, the leading run scorer in this season's competition, hit him straight to Rogers.

Michael Powell then fell to the Brown-Rogers combination and only a late Tim Groenewald (22 not out) cameo got the Bears up to three figures.

In reply Lance Klusener crashed Carter for two boundaries in the first over but Carter had his revenge when he clean-bowled him for eight.

The boundaries continued to flow as Rob White and Usman Afzaal took advantage of the fielding restrictions, with Carter conceding five fours in his first two overs.

But the Bears put the brakes on when James Anyon dismissed White for 14 and Sales was trapped lbw by Streak for four.

Afzaal then fell to Groenewald for 10 to leave the game in the balance but Rogers and Wessels dug in.

Wessels made his intentions clear when he smashed Paul Harris over deep square leg and some sharp running between the wickets ate away at the target.

Rogers (23) and Wessels (30) eventually fell with less than 10 needed but van der Wath and Crook saw the hosts home with 12 balls to spare.

source - sportinglife.com
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