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Levi blitz just enough for Northants

Richard Levi crashed 70 from 43 balls as Northants Steelbacks edged closer to a Friends Life t20 quarter-final spot with a five-run win over Worcestershire Royals at New Road.

The big-hitting South African opener smashed six sixes and five fours while monopolising respective partnerships of 46 and 56 with Kyle Coetzer and Cameron White.

A lower-order slump pegged Northamptonshire back to 137 for six but that proved just enough as the Midlands/Wales/West Group leaders bounced back from Saturday's defeat by Warwickshire.

Although Worcestershire dragged themselves into contention with Andre Russell's 44 from 31 deliveries, they had too much to do after David Willey's match-clinching return of 3-13 in four overs.

The left-arm seamer crucially had Russell well caught on the long-off boundary by Alex Wakely and, despite Daryl Mitchell's unbeaten 38, the home side could not get close to the 21 required from the last over.

Joe Leach - fresh from a maiden LV= County Championship century against Gloucestershire - struck 14 from six balls at number eight to make a case for a promotion up the order.

Ultimately the result was all about Levi's ability to dominate, as he did last Tuesday in blasting an unbeaten 110 from 62 balls against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.

Worcestershire were blown away when the 25-year-old launched another onslaught with three consecutive sixes off Leach when taking 22 off the fifth over.

Three other bowlers conceded maximums to Levi and Worcestershire only found a way to stem the carnage when turning to Gareth Andrew for the 15th over.

The eighth bowler to be used, Andrew made the breakthrough when Levi powered his first delivery to deep square-leg. Russell was almost knocked off his feet in hanging on to the chance.

There was little else to come from the Steelbacks as wickets fell to spinners Shaaiq Choudhry and Moeen Ali.

The last five overs produced only 30 in a disappointingly flat finish to the innings, but it did not prove costly in the end.

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