Derbyshire Falcons were beaten by five wickets in the Vitality Blast fixture against Northants Steelbacks.
Steelbacks captain, Josh Cobb struck, 70 from just 44 balls, his highest score of this Vitality Blast season to help his side chase down 152 and earn a five wicket victory over Derbyshire Falcons with 11 balls to spare.
Cobb, deprived of opportunities this season by Chris Lynn’s power hitting, picked up the mantle after the Australian fell to a rare first ball duck. Playing a belligerent innings, he struck six fours and three maximums before Rob Keogh took the Steelbacks over the line.
Earlier Tom Taylor took three wickets in an over as the Steelbacks’ bowlers restricted Derbyshire Falcons to a modest total. Wayne Masden was the only batter to offer any real resistance with 37.
The Falcons were kept to 40 for two at the end of the powerplay. Luis Reece swung one high over deep midwicket in the first over but Taylor and Ben Sanderson applied the brakes, backed up well by some sharp Steelbacks fielding.
Reece attempted to up the scoring rate but miscued a big shot against Taylor and offered a steepler of a catch to Neesham at midwicket. Masood fell shortly afterwards to an astonishing running catch by Keogh on the boundary at backward square off Sanderson.
Hayden Kerr (29 off 22 balls), promoted to number three, looked assured and put on 39 for the third wicket with Leus du Plooy (19). Any hope of building a big total fell away though when the Falcons lost three wickets for 16 runs in as many balls to stutter to 80 for five at the end of the twelfth over.
First du Plooy hit Freddie Heldreich straight to Taylor on the long-off boundary before Kerr holed out at deep midwicket off Jimmy Neesham. Brooke Guest then gave Heldreich his second scalp caught at point.
The Falcons went four overs before scoring another boundary as Wayne Madsen and Alex Hughes rebuilt. Hughes finally cleared the square leg boundary dispatching the ball into the gardens of the neighbouring terraced houses.
Masden survived two dropped catches off Sanderson but Taylor struck back in the next over. First he removed both set batsmen who both fell to catches by Cobb at cover before knocking back Mattie McKiernan’s stumps. With a run out off the last ball, the Falcons finished on 151 for nine.
An expectant Wantage Road crowd were momentarily hushed when Chris Lynn, fresh from his heroics in the previous two Steelbacks home games, edged behind off the first ball of the chase bowled by Kerr.
Cobb though started aggressively, clubbing Kerr over mid off and then cutting him for consecutive boundaries.He slog swept George Scrimshaw over deep midwicket for six and hit Watt down the ground for another to take the Steelbacks to 53 for one at the end of the powerplay.
He rode his luck at times, offering two sharp chances which the Falcons failed to hold. Later he was caught on the ropes only for the fielder’s boot to touch the rope in the process.
He had put on 55 with Ben Curran before his partner fell to a catch behind square off Scrimshaw when Conners took a well judged catch sliding on his knees to get to the ball. Saif Zaib made only six before he offered a catch behind off an attempted pull shot.
Cobb meanwhile advanced to his half century reaching the landmark off 31 balls. He continued in belligerent fashion crunching the ball through the covers and playing some deft cut shots before finally falling off a thick edge to Conners at deep point off Scrimshaw to leave the Steelbacks on 102 for four in the 13th over.
Jimmy Neesham hit 20 before he fell to a catch at long-on but Keogh held his nerve, finishing with an undefeated 28 off 24 deliveries.
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The Falcons will be aiming to extend their Vitality Blast winning streak at Queen’s Park to four matches, when they take on Yorkshire Vikings to close out the BRM Solicitors Festival of Cricket, in association with Chesterfield Borough Council, on Saturday 18 June.