Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Northamptonshire innings - first 25 overs

Once again this morning, the opening Derbyshire bowlers gave the opposition far too much width to free their hands and pick their spot. The line of Ben Cotton was better than Tom Milnes, whose first two overs went for nineteen and could have been worse but for one good bit of fielding and the intervention of Ben Duckett's abdomen, when he couldn't get out of the way of a fierce drive.

Cotton looks to have improved from last season and also looks fitter, but Milnes was quickly replaced by Tom Taylor, thankfully recovered from his stress fracture of last year, The action has changed slightly but his run up is direct and smooth, his early line and length impeccable. Later he dropped his length and was punished by Josh Cobb, a six towards the pavilion following one over mid on.

Cotton made the breakthrough in the eighth over with one that cut away from Ben Duckett and took the edge of the bat, Daryn Smit taking a low, but by his lofty standards regulation catch.

Cobb eased into the forties with another towering blow over mid on, this time off Cotton, who finished his first five overs with 1-26, while 45 had come from the other  end.

After the first Powerplay, at ten overs, the visitors were 71-1, tribute to some lusty blows but also to a little good fortune when two or three lofted shots just cleared or fell short of fielders.

Shiv Thakor came on to bowl at the City End and started steadily, keeping a full length and a tight line, while the advent of Jeevan Mendis saw people sitting up in their seats, for some perhaps the first sighting of the Sri Lankan all rounder.

He too began well, despite pulling one ball down for a regulation four to Cobb behind square. The latter reached his fifty from 49 balls, continuing to look the excellent one-day player that he is.

With the score on 88, however, Cobb went too far across to one from Thakor that clipped his leg stump and gave Derbyshire a much needed wicket. It was a well-deserved one for the Derbyshire all-rounder, whose figures at that stage read three overs for six runs, though a disappointing end for Cobb, who had looked set for a match-defining score.

Richard Levi had started quietly but is always a danger man in this form of the game. A big shout for leg before against him from Thakor closed the seventeenth over, with Derbyshire clawing the strike rate back well at 97-2.

Billy Godleman rotated his bowlers well at the Racecourse End, but Thakor's excellent five-over spell for just fourteen runs ended and saw the advent of Alex Hughes into the attack at the City End, while Mendis returned and continued to bowl a wily spell that troubled Levi.

It continued to look a '300' wicket, however and Derbyshire will do well to keep the visitors below that total. With the combined seven overs of Taylor and Milnes having gone for 57, the balance of their overs - and who bowls them - is likely to be key in the second half of the innings.

At halfway, the visitors were sitting nicely on 139-2.

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