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Crook and Azhar star for Steelbacks

Steven Crook's spectacular half-century helped Northants Steelbacks go top of the Midlands/Wales/West Group in the Friends Life t20 with a over Somerset.

Crook held the Steelbacks innings together by blasting 63 off just 36 balls, including four sixes, as the hosts posted 150 for eight from 20 overs, with Yasir Arafat taking 3-21.

In-form seamer Muhammad Azhar Ullah then claimed 3-16 wickets as Somerset fell short to give the hosts their fifth win in six matches in this competition.

Northants won the toss and chose to bat but lost two wickets in the first over when Richard Levi was trapped lbw by Arafat for one, before Cameron White smashed the same man to Jos Buttler at deep square-leg.

Steelbacks captain Alex Wakely was then caught and bowled on 14 by Craig Meschede before Kyle Coetzer launched the seamer to Alfonso Thomas at deep extra cover after plundering 34 off 31 balls.

But Crook was to complete his first Twenty20 half-century off only 28 deliveries before David Willey fell cheaply when he hammered Meschede to James Hildreth at cover.

Matthew Spriegel played Thomas on to his stumps and Crook then holed out when he was taken by Nick Compton at long-off to give Arafat his third wicket.

Thomas pinned wicketkeeper David Murphy lbw in the final over as Somerset finished their bowling strongly.

Chasing 151, Somerset lost their captain Marcus Trescothick for 22 in the fifth over when he launched Crook high into the air to James Middlebrook at fine leg.

Peter Trego went for a two-ball duck when he was taken by Middlebrook at mid-on off the bowling of Azhar, who then forced England batsman Compton to edge to Murphy.

The visitors continued to falter as Hildreth was trapped lbw by Middlebrook for 11 and wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter perished on 38 when he smashed the same bowler to Spriegel at deep square-leg.

Somerset had Meschede and Buttler run out on 14 and 36 respectively, the former thanks to a brilliant direct hit by Willey from mid-on, before Azhar bowled Thomas in the final over.