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Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire
Friends Life t20 at Bristol
By Mark Easterbrook
Gloucestershire Gladiators gained their first win in this season's Friends Life t20 with an eight-run success over Northamptonshire Steelbacks at a windswept County Ground.
Gladiators captain Hamish Marshall had callled for an improved display in the field after last Sunday's defeat at New Road and his team produced it as the visitors were kept to 131-8 in reply to 139-9.
Ian Saxelby took the bowling honours with 4-16 from his four overs and Muttiah Muralitharan claimed the crucial wicket of Kyle Coetzer, who top-scored with 44, in an equally miserly spell of 1-16.
After being put into bat by Northants skipper Alex Wakeley, Gloucestershire made 46 from the six powerplay overs for just the loss of Marshall, who miscued a pull off David Willey to Con de Lange at mid-on.
However, spinners James Middlebrook and de Lange slowed the Gloucestershire momentum in the middle overs and the home side never really broke free from the stranglehold in the rest of the innings.
Kane Williamson, in his last home match before departing for New Zealand's tour of the Caribbean, struck five boundaries in his 39 before he pulled Middlebrook to deep midwicket, where Rob White took a low catch.
Alex Gidman was also caught on the midwicket boundary, by David Willey off de Lange, and it became 106-4 in the 16th over when James Fuller, who had hit two sixes in his 18, holed out to White at long-on to gve Middlebrook his second wicket.
Jack Brooks accounted for Jack Taylor, caught at midwicket by de Lange, and Ian Cockbain (36) was taken at long-off by Coetzer from Chaminda Vaas's bowling, having struck the Sri Lankan for a straight six off the previous delivery.
A further three wickets fell in the last three overs as Ed Young and Dan Housego were run out and Jon Batty was caught at third man by Coetzer off Brooks.
Gloucestershire's total looked a little below par, but the home side took control of the game by reducing the Steelbacks to 18-4 inside four overs of their reply.
Fuller had White caught behind off a defensive edge and Housego took a steepling catch at midwicket to dismiss Robert Newton off Saxelby, who then had Wakeley taken at cover by Cockbain in the same over.
Australian star Cameron White was the next to go, caught by Marshall at mid-off from Young's off-spin, but Middlebrook and Coetzer then rallied the innings with a partnership of 54 in 51 balls.
Middlebrook had contributed 23 when he mistimed a drive at Williamson's off-spin and Muttiah Muralitharan ran in from short third man to take the catch.
Coetzer hit sixes off Taylor and Williamson to keep the game in the balance, but it started to swing back Glouucestershire's way when he was bowled while trying to sweep Muralitharan, which made it 96-6 in the 16th over.
Saxelby returned at the Jessop Stand End and he effectively sealed the win by bowling Willey and having David Murphy caught at cover by Marshall.