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Northants beat Durham to claim T20 Blast title

Northants Steelbacks players celebrate their NatWest T20 Blast victory
Northants Steelbacks players celebrate their NatWest T20 Blast victory
©REUTERS / Action Images
Josh Cobb was named as the man of the match after hitting 80 in 43 ball
Josh Cobb was named as the man of the match after hitting 80 in 43 ball
©REUTERS / Action Images

Northants Steelbacks 155-6 (Cobb 80) beat
Durham Jets 153-8 (Jennings 88, Sanderson 3-31) by four wickets
NatWest T20 Blast 2016 final, Edgbaston

Northants Steelbacks clinched the 2016 NatWest T20 Blast title by overcoming a dreadful start to their run chase to beat Durham Jets by four wickets in a competitive final at Edgbaston.

Keaton Jennings set a new Finals Day best score of 88 as Durham fought hard to make a score of 153 for eight batting first and although they then reduced Northants to nine for three, they were unable to finish off the job.

A century partnership between Josh Cobb and Alex Wakely set Northants on course for victory as they joined Hampshire, Leicestershire and Surrey as the only repeat winners of the domestic T20 tournament since its inception in 2003.

They got there with five balls to spare, losing two wickets as they closed in on their target to give Durham faint hope of a late comeback, but it wasn't to be for the first-time finalists.

Neither side made any changes from their semi-final wins and for Durham, whose match against Yorkshire was twice interrupted by rain, they were quickly back in action and decided to bat first after winning the toss.

They lost Mark Stoneman early, smartly caught and bowled by Azharullah for three, but first Ben Stokes (18 in eight balls) and then Jennings infused their innings with much-needed momentum. It took an excellent catch in the deep by Rob Keogh to end Stokes' cameo but losing Michael Richardson (4) and Jack Burnham (0) left them struggling at 68 for four at the halfway stage.

Jennings picked the perfect time to register his maiden T20 half-century, geting there in 40 balls in the 13th over and putting on a useful stand with Paul Collingwood (9) until the veteran fell to Ben Sanderson. Sanderson, playing just his third T20 game of the season, went on to return three for 31 to be the pick of the Northants bowlers.

He couldn't get rid of Jennings, who went on to hit five fours and four sixes before falling to Rory Kleinveldt for 88 in 58 balls, caught by Josh Cobb after surpassing the record of Darren Maddy and Craig Spearman, who both registered scores of 86 at previous Finals Days.

Jennings departed with the score on 140 and Durham moved past the 150-run mark thanks to some late runs from Scott Borthwick (10), Mark Wood (5 not out) and Usman Arshad (4 not out).

Rory Kleinveldt (2-40), Azharullah (1-21) and Steven Crook (1-26) were the other wicket-takers.

Northants made a terrible start to their semi-final win over Notts Outlaws and thanks to Wood and Chris Rushworth, were in even more trouble in the final at nine for three. Wood had Adam Rossington (2) caught at slip with his first ball and from the next delivery, Richard Levi (2) was run out after Cobb edged the ball and the stumps were thrown down by Borthwick at second slip.

The much-hyped match-up between Ben Duckett and the Durham attack came and went quickly, the in-form left-hander striking Wood for one four but quickly departing trapped in front by Rushworth with no further score.

For the second time in the day, captain Wakely arrived at the crease and started to rebuild the innings, guiding the Steelbacks to 46 for three from their powerplay as he and Cobb combined in a bid to put the pressure back on Durham.

Chief aggressor Cobb brought up his 13th T20 half-century in the 10th over with an enormous leg-side six off Borthwick as the rain threatened to cause an interruption, helping Northants reach halfway on 79 for three, needing 75 to win in 60 balls.

The pair took 11 runs off Wood when he came back into the attack and Wakely brought up the century stand with a straight six and pulled four off Borthwick; as the runs kept flowing, with six overs to go they needed 33 to win - less than a run per ball.

Wakely fell for 43 in 39 balls when he was run out by Arshad, bringing to an end their 120-run partnership and throwing the match once again into the balance, but not for long as Cobb and Keogh kept their heads and resisted Durham's resurgence.

Needing just eight to win from the final three overs, Cobb decided to try to finish the game in style only to be caught by Richardson off Rushworth for 80 in 48 balls but by then the damage was done and his departure was greeted with muted celebrations from the Durham players. He struck 10 fours and three sixes.

With six required from two overs, Northants lost their sixth wicket when Crook was run out for a duck as they wobbled with the finishing line in sight and the game went down to the final over, which had looked highly unlikely - for different reasons - at most points during the run chase.

Keogh (16 not out) thumped Arshad through mid-wicket for four from the first ball to cue celebrations as Northants followed up defeat in last year's final with a victory to add to their 2013 success.

© Cricket World 2016