Vaas inspires Steelbacks to first win
Chaminda Vaas starred with bat and ball as Northamptonshire Steelbacks finally broke their duck in this year’s Friends Provident t20 with a 21-run win over Worcestershire Royals.
Vaas, the former Sri Lanka seamer, hit a fluent 54, including three huge sixes, as a makeshift opener as the hosts posted a total of 143 for eight from their 20 overs.
The left-armer then went on to grab two wickets with the ball as Northants ended a run of three straight defeats by restricting the visitors to 122 for eight.
Royals bowler Jack Shantry had been the pick of their attack, taking 2-24, but his batsmen badly let him down with Vaas and James Middlebrook doing the damage for Northants.
The Steelbacks won the toss and chose to bat in glorious conditions, and former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent made a breezy 18 before hitting James Cameron to Shantry at mid-on.
Cameron then dropped Vaas twice, first at deep extra cover then deep midwicket, both off Australia leg-spinner Steven Smith, as Vaas and Ireland wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien added 71 runs between them.
Vaas went past 50 off 39 balls by smashing Gareth Andrew for six over midwicket but perished by blasting the same bowler to Smith at long-off.
O’Brien departed for 31 soon after when his off-stump was taken out by Moeen Ali before Steelbacks captain Andrew Hall smashed stand-in Royals captain Daryl Mitchell to Alexei Kervezee at deep midwicket.
Shantry claimed two wickets in the 19th over by bowling Rob White for 13 before Nicky Boje tamely struck his first ball to Mitchell at extra cover.
In the final over, David Willey was run out by Cameron at backward point before Smith caught Alex Wakely at long-off off Andrew.
Chasing 144, the Royals got off to a bad start when Jack Manuel, who was making his senior debut, made just three before launching Vaas to Nicky Boje at deep square-leg.
Former skipper Boje then bowled Phil Jaques for 10 and an awful mix-up in the ninth over involving Moeen and Kervezee led to Boje running out the former for 19.
Smith made nine before he hit James Middlebrook to Jack Brooks at deep cover and Vaas removed Kervezee’s middle stump for 19 to leave the visitors on 72 for five.
The Royals’ sorry procession continued when Cameron made just a single before he was bowled by Middlebrook. The off-spinner ended his impressive spell with 2-12.
Two more wickets fell in the last two overs with Mitchell hammering Hall to Brooks at deep midwicket and Andrew then struck his first ball to Vincent at extra cover.