Yorkshire were stunned by a hat-trick from ex-New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel and a spectacular under-pressure innings from Laurie Evans as Birmingham Bears pinched the points in tonight’s pulsating NatWest T20 Blast clash at Headingley.
Experienced offie Patel de-railed Yorkshire after Andrew Gale had elected to bat, leaving them at 62-5 in the ninth over with the first hat-trick in English domestic T20 since David Willey’s treble for Northamptonshire in last August’s final against Surrey.
Tim Bresnan and Adil Rashid were forced into a recovery job, sharing 68 unbroken in 44 balls for the seventh wicket as the Vikings were given something to defend at 147-6. Bresnan hit a career best 45 not out off 36 balls and Rashid 29 not out off 20.
And when Birmingham were reduced to 29-3 in the fifth over and later 83-5 in the 13th of their reply, Yorkshire looked to be on their way to a win which would seal their place in the quarter-finals.
In the end, former Surrey man Evans has made them wait thanks to a brilliant and inventive 69 not out off 43 balls, doing the bulk of the work as a target off 50 off five overs became seven off the last.
The Bears won by five wickets with two balls to spare, and they are still in the hunt for a last eight place thanks to Evans and Patel, who claimed a career best 4-19.
Yorkshire are likely to have to win their final North Division match against Nottinghamshire at Headingley next Friday to seal a place in the last eight.
Yorkshire’s innings got off to a steady start despite the loss of Aaron Finch for 13 to a Rikki Clarke slower ball, and they reached 44-1 after six overs of powerplay.
Soon after, however, the action really started as Patel had Alex Lees stumped midway through the seventh, leaving the score at 47-2.
The Kiwi then had compatriot Kane Williamson lbw for 24 with the third ball of the ninth over before bowling Gale and Adam Lyth in identical fashion, squaring both left-handers up and beating their outside edge as the score slipped to 62-5.
When Jonny Bairstow holed out to long-off against Ateeq Javid’s part-time off-spin in the 13th over, Yorkshire were sliding fast at 79-6.
But Bresnan and Rashid batted with controlled aggression to boost the target to a defendable one, hitting ten boundaries between them.
Patel’s hat-trick was also the third against Yorkshire in the history of T20 cricket after Jeremy Snape for Leicestershire in 2007 and Keith Barker for Warwickshire/Birmingham in 2010.
Yorkshire struck twice in the first three overs of the Bears chase, with Bresnan getting Will Porterfield caught at cover and Ryan Sidebottom getting Jon Webb superbly caught at mid-wicket – a skier to Finch – as the visitors slipped to 22-2 after three.
Wickets continued to tumble. Sidebottom had Tim Ambrose caught at mid-on and Azeem Rafiq got Varun Chopra caught at short mid-on as the score slipped to 40-4 in the latter stages of the eighth over.
Clarke hit Rafiq for a straight six into the Rugby ground and two fours with the first three balls of the 12th over as Birmingham counter-attacked.
However, Rashid got him smartly caught at deep mid-wicket by Rafiq in the next, leaving the score at 83-5, and Yorkshire were back on track.
The target became 50 off the last five with the score at 98-5 before Rich Pyrah conceded only four off the 16th, leaving it at 46 off four with Evans and Javid in.
That became 38 off three at 110-5 and 23 off two as Evans, who played the scoop to third-man particularly well, started to motor.
And when he played exactly that shot for six against Sidebottom to take the target from 13 off seven balls to seven off six, the writing was on the wall, unfortunately.
Yorkshire have posted 147-6 against Birmingham Bears at Headingley as they bid for the victory that will secure them a NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final spot.
Tim Bresnan top-scored with 46 not out as he underpinned a recovery from 79-6, helped by seventh-wicket partner Adil Rashid (29 not out). They shared 68 unbroken.
New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel took 4-19, including a hat-trick.