Steelbacks make losing return to Campbell Park

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TOP class Friends Life T20 cricket returned to Milton Keynes on Wednesday night, but the game ended in a disappointing six wicket defeat for the Northants Steelbacks.

Vikram Solanki’s unbeaten half century for Worcestershire Royals guided them to a comfortable victory as the ‘home’ side failed to make an impression with the bat.

After winning the toss, Northants opted to bat first and actually got off to a fast start. Rob White faced the majority of the bowling attack in the opening overs, smashing a quick-fire 30 while Bilal Shafayat hardly took a delivery at the other end.

But Shafayat clipped a Gareth Andrews delivery to cover into the hands of James Cameron for a four-ball duck in the fourth over with the Steelbacks score at 30.

A further 18 was added to the score before White fell for 33 to Aneesh Kapil. Niall O’Brian and Alex Wakely also both fell to Kapil as Northants slumped to 80-4.

Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal was then thrown the ball and he destroyed any chances of Northants making a big score. Big hitter Andrew Hall was first to fall to the spinner with the score at 120-6.

And a three-wicket maiden from Ajmal in the final over reduced Northants to just 129-9 at the interval.

Northants started well in reply, taking the wicket of Moeen Ali early in the innings. At one stage Worcestershire were reduced to 45-4, but Solanki (62 not out) and Daryl Mitchell (40 not out) went about attacking the Northants attack and they guided Worcestershire (129-4) to a six wicket victory with three balls to spare.

It’s now just one win in nine games for Steelbacks who sit rock bottom of their Friends Life T20 northern group.