Leicestershire v Northamptonshire, Clydesdale Bank 40, Leicester July 24, 2011

Unbeaten Cobb steers Leicestershire to victory

ESPNcricinfo staff

Leicestershire 209 for 5 beat Northamptonshire 206 for 6 by five wickets

Josh Cobb blazed his way to a career-best 91 not out to fire Leicestershire Foxes to only their second victory of the season in the Clydesdale Bank 40 and put a dent in Northamptonshire Steelbacks' hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

The Foxes' 20-year-old opener blasted two sixes and nine fours in his 88-ball innings as Leicestershire raced to a five-wicket win, reaching their target of 207 with 9.2 overs to spare.

Half-centuries from Stephen Peters and Andrew Hall helped the Steelbacks to a total of 206 for six after they had been put into bat. But with Cobb in such blistering form it proved nowhere near enough.

The home side put down a marker in the first few overs of their innings - Cobb and Andrew McDonald putting on 58 in the first six. The second over from Hall went for 31 runs with two no-balls added to a six and five fours that came from the bat of McDonald.

The Australian all-rounder finally fell to a catch in the deep off the bowling of Lee Daggett for 35 but, by the end of the eight power-play overs, the Foxes had reached 83 for two compared to the Steelbacks' 36 for two at the same stage. From that point on the Foxes were in complete command and they made light work of the victory charge with Cobb dominating the Northamptonshire attack.

He struck the ball superbly on both sides of the wicket, hitting sixes off Chaminda Vaas and David Willey, in addition to numerous other boundaries that flew through the gaps in the field.

Although Will Jefferson, Jacques du Toit and Wayne White fell cheaply to leave the Foxes on 138 for four in the 16th over it proved just a brief respite for the Steelbacks.

Cobb and Matt Boyce (28) shared a fifth-wicket stand of 66 in 14 overs that took the home side to the brink of victory before Boyce skied a catch off James Middlebrook.

Cobb sealed the win with another cracking boundary to go past his previous best one-day score of 87 against Durham in the same competition earlier in the season.

Peters, with 63 off 90 balls, and Hall, who made 67 off 81, provided the backbone to a disappointing Steelbacks innings. The visitors never recovered from a poor start when Foxes seamer Nadeem Malik took three for 18 in his first six overs. Only a stand of 91 between Peters and Hall gave the innings any substance, but in the end it was well below what was required.

Having won their first five games in the competition the Steelbacks have now lost two in succession and face a real battle to reach the last four.