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Stylish Levi sets up Northants win

Richard Levi bludgeoned a magnificent century to lead Northants Steelbacks to a 17-run Friends Life t20 victory over Gloucestershire Gladiators at Cheltenham.

The powerful South African struck an unbeaten 110 off 62 balls, with 15 fours and four sixes, as his side posted 206 for three after losing the toss. Alex Wakely contributed 35 and Steven Crook a rapid 27 not out.

In reply, Gloucestershire plunged to 21 for three as David Willey claimed 3-5 from his first two overs before finishing with 4-32. Alex Gidman, who blasted 49 off 19 balls, and Ian Cockbain, top scorer with 60, led a late rally before the hosts fell short on 189 for six.

The result means Northamptonshire join Glamorgan on eight points from five games at the top of the Midlands/Wales/West Division, while Gloucestershire have now lost four of their five matches.

After taking a few deliveries to gauge the pitch, Levi cut loose with a series of meaty cuts to go with his trademark leg-side shots. He lost opening partner Kyle Coetzer to the first ball of the fifth over, caught by Gidman at mid-wicket off Tom Smith for 15 with the total on 31.

It was 49 for one at the end of the powerplay and shortly afterwards Cameron White was caught on the deep midwicket boundary for 10 by Dan Christian, pulling a delivery from Benny Howell.

Wakely then helped Levi add 89 for the third wicket in 8.4 overs, including two straight sixes in a set of six from off left-arm spinner Chris Dent, which helped to take the score to 140 for three.

The Northamptonshire captain was annoyed with himself for giving a catch to long-off in the 16th overs, handing Howell a second wicket. But there was no dislodging Levi, who moved to his century with his final maximum, hammered over midwicket off Dent in the 19th over.

Crook joined the party with two sixes of his own, one of them bringing up the 200 in the final over, bowled by David Payne. Left-arm spinner Smith escaped the carnage with creditable figures of 1-25 from his four overs.

Gloucestershire were left with a mountain to climb after Willey sent back Hamish Marshall, Michael Klinger and Dent to leave them 21 for three in the fourth over.

After 10 overs the hosts had managed only 65 for four. But Gidman made a fight of it with four sixes and as many fours - the only home player to match Levi's power.

Cockbain played well without reaching the necessary tempo and got to fifty off 43 balls in the 19th over.

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