Derbyshire Falcons produced a fine all-round performance to defeat Leicestershire Foxes by four wickets, and continue their strong start to the 2016 NatWest T20 Blast.
Jimmy Neesham and Shiv Thakor starred with both bat and ball, the former claiming 3-26 and hitting 29 not out, and the latter taking career-best figures of 3-17 before finishing 14 not out as the Falcons successfully chased down 121 to win in front of over 3,000 people at The 3aaa County Ground.
Having been put in to bat, the visitors were bowled out for 120 by the Derbyshire attack, with one wicket apiece for Alex Hughes, Wayne Madsen and Matt Critchley.
Despite losing early wickets, the hosts were able to chase down their total with two overs to spare, thanks largely to a 49-run partnership between Neesham and Alex Hughes.
The hosts went into the game without injured skipper Wes Durston but Alex Hughes made an inspired move after winning the toss by opening with Wayne Madsen’s off-spin.
Madsen struck with his fourth ball, beating Mark Pettini’s attempted sweep, and in the next over, Mark Cosgrove was bowled for one driving at Neesham.
The Kiwi struck again in his his next over when Kevin O’Brien skied a drive to mid on and then took a stunning catch at cover to remove Umar Akmal without scoring.
When Ben Raine swept Critchley to deep square leg and Niall O’Brien was brilliantly caught on the run by Chesney Hughes at long on, the Foxes were in desperate trouble at 53 for 6 after 10 overs.
Lewis Hill and Neil Dexter took the score to 84 before Thakor struck twice to put the Falcons firmly in control.
Hill chipped tamely to mid off and Tom Wells had his middle stump uprooted three runs later before Neesham returned to have Dexter taken at deep midwicket and end the Foxes hopes of a late flourish.
Leicestershire had to take early wickets to have any chance of defending a modest total and they were back in the game when Clint McKay and Raine reduced the Falcons to 14 for 3.
To rebuild the innings, Chesney Hughes struck two sixes, and with Madsen, put the Falcons back on course before Dexter removed them both in four balls in his first over.
But Neesham and Alex Hughes batted well under pressure before Thakor finished the contest with three fours in four balls.
Derbyshire are back in NatWest T20 Blast action at The 3aaa County Ground on Friday 17 July when they welcome Birmingham Bears. Supporters can save 20% by purchasing their tickets in advance.
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