Shan Masood says Yorkshire have to treat the remainder of the Vitality Blast campaign as a knockout competition, the captain believing they must win each of their last four group games over the next 10 days to qualify for the quarter-finals.

The Vikings’ quarter-final hopes have been dented by a run of three successive defeats in the North Group; against Durham and Derbyshire away and, sandwiched in between, Birmingham at home.

The latest was against Derbyshire at Chesterfield on Sunday, beaten by seven wickets as the hosts chased 131.

It means Yorkshire now sit seventh in the North on eight points, three behind fourth-placed Durham, who hold the final qualifying position after 10 games.

With that in mind, it is a positive for Yorkshire that they are the next opponents at Headingley tomorrow evening (6.30pm). Beat them, and Masood and company will be back within striking distance.

“For us, the equation’s simple,” said the Pakistan overseas batter. “We have four games, and we have to win all four.

“This is a tight group. Normally in T20 cricket, when you’re playing the Blast, it’s seven wins. But because of the tightness of the group, because of  certain teams getting a point for weather, 14 is not going to be enough. It’s either 15 or 16 points.

“For us, we can’t afford to lose another game. That’s the equation for us. We have to go all out now. If we play four games of good cricket, we’ll find ourselves in the quarter-finals.”

Shan Masood

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. Shan Masood is targeting a perfect end to Yorkshire’s North Group campaign.

With unsettled weather around, it would be no surprise to see Yorkshire qualify with three wins and an extra point for a No Result. But it would be a surprise to see them advance if they lost another game amongst the last four.

Masood continued: “We’re playing Durham next, and that’s the closest team in terms of the top four. We’re three points behind them. 

“Hopefully, if we can get a win, we can put ourselves back in contention.

“It’s very important to play one game at a time. For us, it’s about taking it as a knockout competition from now. Every game counts.

“Let’s hope we win the first one and we’ll see with the rest.”

Masood was frustrated with the Derbyshire defeat, absolutely. Yorkshire were bowled out for 130 having slipped to 10-4 early on. The Falcons chased it with comfort.

But what frustrated him more was the manner of the two defeats which preceded that.

Dawid Malan

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Dawid Malan is Yorkshire’s leading run-scorer in this season’s Blast with 298 from eight matches.

At Durham late last month, the Vikings, chasing 171, failed to get eight off the last over with four wickets in hand. Then, at home to Birmingham last Friday, they fell short of achieving 18 off the last two overs with six wickets in hand chasing 215.

They were definitely ones which got away.

“We close those out, and we probably need two wins from the next four, and we would have been sitting pretty,” reflected Masood. “But that’s not the case.”

The captain knows that Yorkshire have the ability to get on a run of wins.

After all, last year, they won six on the run through the middle of the campaign – equalling a club record.

“Last year, I thought we got it right for a considerable time,” he continued. “We had those six wins in a row, and that is a top, top effort.

“Last year, I felt like we had a very good combination. 

Jafer Chohan

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. Jafer Chohan has missed the last two matches with a broken right thumb. Shan Masood and Ottis Gibson hope his return is imminent.

“This year has been tricky because we’ve realised from the outset that we’re going to be spin heavy. But then in no time, since the Durham game, we’ve lost Joe Root and Jafer Chohan, who would have given us a lot on that pitch when we conceded 214 against Birmingham. 

“Being a spin-orientated bowling line-up and losing two spinners has been a blow. But, also as a batting unit, we have to put our hands up and say that we didn’t finish two games off.”

Leaving Chesterfield, coach Ottis Gibson was hopeful leg-spinner Jafer Chohan could return this week from a broken right thumb, suffered whilst batting in the nets prior to Birmingham last week. He has missed the last two fixtures. He could be especially important to them against Lancashire at spin-friendly Emirates Old Trafford on Friday.

Durham have won three of their last four games, though were beaten in similar fashion to Yorkshire in their last game at Northamptonshire on Sunday.

They recovered from 4-3 to post 140 all out and lost by five wickets. 

They have three overseas players available – South African batter David Bedingham and Australian duo Ashton Turner (all-rounder) and Ben Dwarshuis (seamer).

Bedingham is injured at present, so the two Aussies have played in their last two games.

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Seamer Ben Cliff returned to the side at Chesterfield on Sunday.

Opener Graham Clark is their leading run-scorer with 282, while seamer Ben Raine is their leading wicket-taker with 17.

Meanwhile, Masood has confirmed that he is likely to miss Yorkshire’s Vitality County Championship matches against Sussex at Scarborough (August 22-25) and Middlesex at Headingley (August 29-September 1) because of Test duty with Pakistan.

He is set to skipper his country in two home Tests against Bangladesh between August 21 and September 3, under the new coaching leadership of Jason Gillespie.

“The dates have just been announced,” he added.

“From what I see, the only thing which is falling in-season are the Bangladesh Test Matches. That’s two Test Matches at the end of August.

“That’s a window where I’ll probably end up missing two Championship matches, which isn’t ideal. The two games which are going to be affected are against Sussex and Middlesex at Scarborough and Headingley.”

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