Shan Masood remains confident Yorkshire can bounce back from a pair of damaging defeats this week to get their Vitality Blast title bid back on track.
The Vikings have lost heavily to both Derbyshire and Northamptonshire on Sunday and last night, bowled out for 68 at Chesterfield in the former and 102 in the latter at Headingley.
It means they have dropped outside of the top four quarter-final qualifying places ahead of their last three North Group fixtures, starting with league leaders Birmingham Bears at Headingley tomorrow evening (6.30pm).
The likelihood is that captain Masood and co will have to win two from three to seal a last-eight berth and keep their hopes of a maiden Blast title alive. Durham at the Seat Unique Riverside on Friday follows, as does a trip to Emirates Old Trafford to face Lancashire Lightning the following Friday.
“This side has the quality to win three games in a row,” said the Pakistan international. “If we do finish this group stage with three wins, we’ll be a dangerous side.”
This has been a mixed campaign for fifth-placed Yorkshire. Having lost their first three fixtures, they went on a six-match winning run before losing the next two.
Despite the recent troubles, they are only two points behind leaders Birmingham, who do have a game in hand and come to Headingley aiming to complete the season’s double having won at Edgbaston on the competition’s opening night last month.
Yorkshire’s last two defeats have come amidst struggles with both bat and ball, the latter being more so at the death.
At Chesterfield on Sunday, Derbyshire recovered from 49-3 in the seventh over to post 212-4. Last night, Northamptonshire recovered from 94-4 in the 13th to post 180-6.
But, clearly, the batting has been the biggest issue, and Masood insists the onus is on himself to lead an upturn in fortunes.
Eight times in the competition, Yorkshire players have gone beyond 50 – five of those have been Dawid Malan. Adam Lyth and David Wiese have done it once apiece added to James Wharton, who has posted the only century so far.
Masood, whose top score in 11 matches is 34, said: “I’ll raise my hand and say that I’m going to look to step up.
“I don’t think I’ve batted the way I have batted before, the way I’ve had success over the last few years in T20 cricket.
“I played this competition last year with Derbyshire and was at home in terms of how I could pace my innings. I’m never going to use changing batting positions as an excuse, but that was a different batting position (opening).
“You have to look at the team and combinations, but I feel at number four that I’ve not been able to knuckle down and find a way of playing.
“Mala’s an unbelievable batter, Lythy as well. We can bat all the way down. But I really want to contribute and make sure that I’m responsible for setting up or winning games for the team.
“There are a lots of chances when I could have gone on. Even the 20s or 30s I have got, I was disappointed with them. They could have been 50s or 60s.
“It’s about that one innings that goes the way you want it to go. That’s not happened so far.”
Yorkshire won a club record-equalling six successive matches through the middle of the competition, five of those coming prior to last week’s County Championship match against Derbyshire at Chesterfield.
“Ever since that break (for the Championship game), we haven’t been on the high that we finished off those wins with,” added Masood.
“When we played Worcester here, we conceded 198. When we played Leicester, we conceded 195, Derby 212, Northants 180. Obviously with the bat, as soon as we’ve lost wickets we’ve not gotten a big score.
“The good thing is that we have evidence in front of us to work things out from. The thing is, when are we going to respond? This is the high time in the tournament, the crucial time.
“Like I said at the start, it’s about how you end the group stage. The last three games are in our hands.”
Birmingham (14 points) have won seven of 10 games so far, including by two wickets chasing 147 at Durham last night.
They are captained by wicketkeeper-batter Alex Davies and have former Yorkshire all-rounder Glenn Maxwell as one of two overseas players alongside Pakistani fast bowler Hassan Ali. Australian Maxwell last night played his 400th career T20 match.
England’s Ashes squad member Chris Woakes also played at the Riverside.
This is Yorkshire’s last home Blast fixture of the group campaign.