Yorkshire Vikings moved into the qualification places in the North Group of the NatWest T20 Blast after another moment of fielding brilliance helped inspire a 14-runs victory over Leicestershire Foxes at Headingley.
Just a few weeks after Aaron Finch and Adam Lyth combined brilliantly at the long on boundary to dismiss Tom Smith in the Roses T20 at Old Trafford, the pair teamed up again to provide the catalyst for a superb Yorkshire fightback that moves them up to fourth, the final place for qualification for the quarter-finals.
Having been restricted to 168 for five after being put into bat, Yorkshire were struggling for a breakthrough when Josh Cobb drilled Adil Rashid down the ground and expected to collect the second six of his aggressive innings.
But Lyth, just as he had done at Old Trafford, jumped high in the air and parried the ball back into play and allowed Finch to dive full-length to his right and take a one-handed catch. It was good enough for former England captain Michael Vaughan to call it the “greatest ever” and secured the men of the match award.
Until that catch, Leicestershire were cruising with Greg Smith and Cobb racing to a 61-run opening stand in only six overs, but afterwards struggled and lost eight wickets for 93 runs to fall short of their victory target.
But despite Smith’s aggressive 56 off 49 ball, which included four fours and a six, they struggled to regain their composure after Finch’s catch with only Cobb and Tom Wells reaching double figures.
Yorkshire had been looking to bounce back quickly after a disappointing 22 runs defeat to Nottinghamshire Outlaws at Trent Bridge on Saturday and were grateful to a return to form from captain Andrew Gale and a late rally between Tim Bresnan and Richard Pyrah for guiding them to their winning total.
Gale had scored only 35 runs in his previous five innings in this form of cricket but top-scored with 55 off 51 balls – his highest Twenty20 score in two years – a for steadying their innings when they had looked in danger of repeating their disappointing Trent Bridge display.
Yorkshire’s innings stuttered after Finch was bowled by seamer Tom Raine, playing only his third senior Twenty20 match, who followed that by winning an lbw decision against Alex Lees with his next ball.
But Once Bresnan and Pyrah combined at the end of the innings, they added 45 off 21 balls and 33 off the final two overs to lift them to a competitive total. They hit 17 off the final over from Rob Taylor, called on to bowl at late notice after Nathan Buck was removed from the attack for bowling an accidental beamer at Pyrah.
Leicestershire’s innings was undermined by the collapse immediately following the stunning catch and although Smith kept their hopes alive, when he was caught in the deep with five overs remaining, their victory ambitions went with him.