An unbeaten 75 from Luis Reece helped guide Derbyshire Falcons to a seven-wicket win over Northants Steelbacks in the opening NatWest T20 Blast match of 2017.
In setting the Falcons 180 to win, Ben Duckett (69) and Josh Cobb (38) put on 93 runs for the second wicket, but the Falcons fought back with three wickets for Hardus Viljoen (2-28), as the reigning champions posted 179-6.
Reece anchored the Derbyshire innings and was ably supported by the middle order as the visitors remained with the run rate throughout their run chase, reaching their victory target of 180 with five balls to spare.
Wayne Madsen took the ball for the first over after Gary Wilson won the toss and elected to field. The decision worked, although it was confusion in the middle which brought the first wicket when Adam Rossington was run out for five off the final ball.
Duckett and Cobb then took control powering Northants past 50 in the sixth over as they went on to share a 93-run stand to move their side to 100-1 in the 12th over.
The momentum, however, shifted when Viljoen, who was returning from injury, took two wickets in as many balls. First Cobb caught by Madsen at mid on, before Alex Wakely was caught down the leg side by Daryn Smit first ball.
Imran Tahir bowled Rob Keogh (17) with a googly and once Duckett was out to Henry, caught by Daryn Smit off a top edge, Derbyshire had restricted the Steelbacks to 132-5 with 23 deliveries remaining.
A 45-run partnership between Steven Crook and Rory Kleinveldt in the latter overs rallied the Steelbacks’ innings as the hosts posted 179-6 from their 20 overs. Crook hit 34 off 17 balls.
Ben Slater (8) crashed two fours in the first over of the Derbyshire reply, but was caught behind off Richard Gleeson in the next over.
It was a substantial second-wicket partnership which got Derbyshire back into the contest as Luis Reece and Billy Godleman added 56 runs in seven overs.
Godleman (25) was stumped off Cobb in the ninth over with the score 69-2, but Reece continued to bat nicely and brought up his half-century with a four through third man, his ninth in 32 deliveries.
With six overs to go Reece crashed Kleinveldt for six down the ground, but Madsen was out for 37 off 22 balls in the same over, with the score 133-3 and a further 47 to win.
With the game finely poised, it was a third successive partnership over 40 which saw the Falcons to victory, Wilson hitting an unbeaten 28 off 15 balls to compliment Reece’s fine knock of 75 not out off 51 balls.
Wilson hit Kleinveldt for a six off the last ball of the penultimate over to level the scores, leaving Reece to push a single off the first ball of the 20th over to see Derbyshire home and winning by seven wickets.
NatWest T20 Blast is back this July and August. Save £4 by purchasing your matchday tickets in advance. While further discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Buy online today to secure your place and save.