Leicestershire Foxes’ faint hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast were all but extinguished when rain denied them a great chance of victory against Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Grace Road.
Frustratingly for the Foxes, they produced their best performance in the field in the competition this season - by bowling the Steelbacks out for 82 runs in 16.2 overs - before the rain swept in and the game was abandoned without another ball being bowled.
Umpires, Steve Garratt and Nigel Llong, waited as long as they could before making the decision but, after an 8.05pm inspection, it was clear that even the required minimum of five overs to make it a match would not be possible.
It was a blow to the home side who, with only two victories from their previous eight games, needed to win their final six to have a realistic chance of finishing in the top four of the North Group.
Groundsman cover the wicket as the rain begins to fall. pic.twitter.com/zY1zAqlxbM
— Northants Cricket (@NorthantsCCC) July 4, 2014
This would almost certainly have provided them with one of those wins.
Even in a five-over run chase they would have been favourites to reach a victory target of 27 under the Duckworth-Lewis method.
For defending champions Northamptonshire, the one point picked up from this no-result keeps them in contention as they have nine points on the board with four games remaining.
But after beating Birmingham Bears 24 hours earlier, the Steelbacks were blown away by the Foxes seam bowlers on a helpful, green-looking pitch that had good carry and bounce.
Only three batsmen, Kyle Coetzer, Steven Crook and James Middlebrook reached double figures and the innings contained just seven fours and a six.
Charlie Shreck, Anthony Ireland and Ben Raine all took three wickets, while Scott Styris had Ben Duckett caught behind by wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien with the second ball of the first over he has bowled in the competition this season.
O’Brien took five catches - a record for Leicestershire in Twenty20 cricket. It also equalled the domestic record for dismissals by a wicketkeeper.
Northamptonshire’s total of 82 was their second lowest in the competition after they were bowled out for 47 by Durham in 2011.