sport

Willey shines, Essex win thriller

David Willey's fine 95 off just 45 balls lifted Northamptonshire to a two-wicket win over Leicestershire in their rain-reduced T20 Blast clash.

Willey is fast gaining a reputation as one of the hottest properties in the shortest format and his bombastic innings on Friday helped the defending champions edge to their second victory from two games in a match that was reduced to 18 overs per side due to rain.

Half-centuries from Josh Cobb and Greg Smith helped Leicestershire to 176 for four after they were invited to bat, but Willey laid the platform for the lower order to edge over the line with two balls to spare.

Essex Eagles pulled off a dramatic victory over Glamorgan Dragons with two balls left of Friday night's NatWest T20 Blast South Division clash under the floodlights at the County Ground in Chelmsford.

Glamorgan had set a fast early pace, with Jacques Rudolph (63) and captain Jim Allenby (68) helping the Dragons post 189 for six.

New Zealand all-rounder Jesse Ryder hit a quickfire 30 before Tom Westley (48), Ben Foakes (46) and James Foster (32) set up a tense final over, in which Greg Smith delivered a thrilling four-wicket victory with a six.

Karl Brown and Steven Croft fired Lancashire to their second Natwest T20 Blast win of the season with a blistering unbeaten partnership of 131 at the County Ground.

Derbyshire had the Red Rose reeling on 38 for three, but Brown and Croft then got to work and steered them to a final total of 169, which was enough to secure a 20-run victory as the hosts fell short on 149 for five.

Gloucestershire - who began their South Division campaign on minus two points as punishment for preparing a poor pitch last season - eased to a five-wicket victory over the Panthers.

They restricted Middlesex to 111 for eight from their 20 overs and then knocked off the runs with 15 balls to spare.

Kent opened their NatWest T20 Blast campaign with a 42-run victory over Somerset in a rain-affected South Group match at the County Ground.

The game was reduced to 13 overs a side and delayed until 7pm, but the poor weather failed to dampen Kent's spirits as they sent the hosts crashing to a second defeat in the competition.

The win was orchestrated by Kent's top order, with opener Daniel Bell-Drummond the star of the show as he smashed 59 off 30 balls, including eight fours and two sixes, to set up a score of 164 for five.

Hampshire claimed their first victory of this season's NatWest T20 Blast with an 18-run win over local rivals Sussex at Hove, while Worcestershire secured victory after Nottinghamshire's lower order collapsed in a 24-run defeat at Trent Bridge.

The NatWest T20 Blast meeting between Birmingham Bears and Yorkshire at Edgbaston was abandoned without a ball bowled following inclement weather.