Daryl Mitchell inspires Worcestershire to victory over Northants

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A first five-wicket haul in t20 cricket for Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell more or less ended Northamptonshire's defence of their title in the North Group on Friday night.

On an idyllic summer's evening at Wantage Road, the hosts knew that a win was crucial for their quarter-final hopes, and when Richard Oliver, one of the competition's success stories this season, holed out to long-off off Matt Spriegel's first delivery of the game, the Steelbacks looked to be making a positive start.

Early wickets key

With the Rapids at times overly-reliant on their top-order players this season, the hosts knew that early wickets would be key, and the bright Kohler-Cadmore followed Oliver back to the dugout in the fourth over.

A flurry of boundaries took the powerplay score to 52-2 before Steven Crook had Mitchell caught behind for 17.

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Some extraordinary shots from New Zealander Colin Munro off James Middlebrook's bowling - three reverse-pulls in a row all reached the rope - kept the visitors scoring freely, and despite the run-out of Ross Whiteley thanks to a brilliant bit of fielding from Crook, a total in excess of 180 looked in sight.

Quick partnership

Wicket-keeper Ben Cox and Munro added 46 runs in 4.1 overs before Munro fell to another exceptional fielding moment by a bowler; this time David Willey's turn-and-throw effort removed the Kiwi batsman one run short of his half-century.

Cox proceeded to a career-best of 46 which came off just 30 balls, but at no point could he find a partner to back him up; a canny spell of medium-pace by Steelbacks' skipper Kyle Coetzer was followed up by an excellent last over by Muhammed Azhar Ullah, who took three wickets and conceded just five runs to see the visitors post what seemed to be a below-par total.

A slow start to the powerplay was followed by some crunching boundaries by aggressive opening pair Richard Levi and Willey, and with 47 on the scoreboard after six overs for just the loss of Willey, it appeared that a routine chase would ensue.

Choudry impresses

Levi and Coetzer both fell to the impressive Shaaiq Choudry to swing the pendulum back towards Worcestershire, who were without usual spinner Saeed Ajmal, but with Adam Rossington, on loan from Middlesex, striking the ball cleanly, anything was possible.

Mitchell then brought himself on to devastating effect; he took the first of his five wickets to make the score 84/4, and then oversaw a collapse to 127/9 when he completed his five-wicket haul with a stunning return catch from Spriegel.

Five-wicket haul

The Rapids' captain used an array of variations from his medium-pace, and the supposedly long batting line-up of Northamptonshire failed to fire after the top six had been removed.

The task had looked tricky for Northants with 66 needed from the final six overs with six wickets in hand, but to be bowled out 31 runs short was unexpected.

Coetzer, captaining the hosts this t20 season, was despondant after the close, and recognised his sides' chances had effectively vanished.

He told reporters: "There's quite a bit of disappointment around although we've still got a very slim chance.

"They won the game, they had two guys who nullified the spin by switch-hitting and that makes you start thinking about your other options. I thought 135 or 140 was about right but it was down to them as they played really well."

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