Yorkshire made it two wins in two Friends Life t20 matches with a tense victory over Roses rivals Lancashire at Old Trafford. The White Rose county held off a spirited Red Rose fightback to take the points by 2 runs in the final over.
The win pushes Yorkshire up to 5th in the Northern Division, one point behind Lancashire having played one game fewer.
With memories of the defeat in the Liverpool Championship fixture fresh in the mind, Yorkshire flew out of the blocks with wickets, seemingly had the match won only to open the door for Lancashire. Only nerveless batting from Man of the Match, Azeem Rafiq, at the death, to follow his 3-15 with the ball saw Yorkshire home. Andrew Gale’s team are now winning matches they were losing earlier in the season and the Yorkshire skipper will hope that the confidence gained in the last two days will see his side now push to the Quarter-Finals and beyond.
Yorkshire chased down the victory target of 123 with just two balls to spare. The off-spinner, recently returned from a month’s loan at Derbyshire, hit the third and fourth ball of Tom Smith’s final over to the fence with a paddle sweep and a reverse paddle sweep to ensure the Tykes scored the 10 runs required from the final over.
In a low scoring game the required run-rate never rose much above 7 an over, but nerves wobbled when Andrew Gale tried one aerial shot too many and was caught at mid-on by Karl Brown off Smith. The score became 34-2 in the fifth over when Jonny Bairstow tried to hit Smith over the mid-wicket boundary but found Paul Horton patrolling the fence.
Adam Lyth and Antony McGrath then showed patience to add 37 for the 3rd wicket to ease Yorkshire’s worries, but Lyth, who had earlier survived a stumping chance, was bowled by Gary Keedy for 28 and seven balls later McGrath (18) popped Procter to Stephen Moore at covert. Gerard Brophy could only guide Procter’s next lifting delivery to Steven Croft at backward point and Yorkshire were 75-5 after 12.4 overs, needing 48 runs from 44 balls.
Gary Ballance worked hard for 14, which had included successive boundaries off Procter in the 15th over, before lofting Procter (3-22) to Brown at mid-off and Richard Pyrah attempted a third run off a miss field but Croft recovered to fire in the throw to allow the third umpire to adjudge him short of his ground. Rashid was tamely run out and it appeared that Yorkshire has succumbed to the pressure as the Lancashire crowd grew louder.
But 20-year-old Rafiq stood firm alongside Ryan Sidebottom. Needing 10 from the final over, Sidebottom nudged a single before Smith beat Rafiq’s first attempt at a paddle sweep. Smith bowled a wide and Yorkshire needed 8 runs from 4 balls. Rafiq backed his paddle sweeps, hit the next two deliveries to fine leg and third man for four which sparked jubilant scenes in the Yorkshire dugout.
Andrew Gale had won the toss and with three spinners in his ranks (Rafiq replacing Steve Patterson) he chose to bowl first. The three spinners – Rashid, David Wainwright and Rafiq – had a combined analysis of 12-0-59-5. Rafiq finished with 3-15 and Rashid, whose figures were tainted when he was hit for two sixes in the 18th over, claimed 2-29.
Rashid trapped Tom Smith leg before with the second ball of the Lancashire innings when he attempted a reverse sweep. Steven Croft hit Rashid to Lyth at long-on, Horton found Rashid off Rafiq and Cross was bowled by Rafiq as Lancashire mustered only 52-4 at the halfway stage. It was a thoroughly professional, sharp and driven display in the field from the Yorkshire side.
Jordan Clark was caught by Gary Ballance to give Rafiq his third wicket and Karl Brown saw Stephen Moore (34) cross for a run that wasn’t there to be run out to make the score 62-6.
Brown (34 not out on t20 debut) was joined by Procter (25) as they sought to reach a respectable total by adding 60 runs in the final 43 balls of the innings.
Lancashire had posted 122-6 and would fight hard to defend it, but Azeem Rafiq ensured it wasn’t quite enough.
The wins against Worcestershire and Lancashire have been great adverts for t20 cricket. Excitement, tension and no shortage of skill on show. I’m not sure I can stand another final over drama when Yorkshire play Northants in a 1.10pm start at Headingley on Sunday though!
JAMES BUTTLER at OLD TRAFFORD
After the drama of last night’s win over the Worcestershire Royals, Yorkshire Carnegie travel to Old Trafford with fresh belief and with their Friends Life t20 campaign up and running.
The win against the Royals saw the Tykes lift their game and remove themselves from the bottom of the Northern Division. Anything can happen in Roaes matches and Andrew Gale will be expecting more of the same against Lancashire tonight. Wouldn’t it be good to steal the points from under Red Rose noses in their own backyard?
The Old Trafford square has played slow and low with turn in the FLt20 this summer – will that alter team selection or will Andrew Gale stick with last night’s winning formula?
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YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE SQUAD
Andrew GALE ©, Jonny BAIRSTOW, Adam LYTH, Anthony McGRATH, Gerard BROPHY (wk), Joe ROOT, Adil RASHID, Richard PYRAH, Ryan SIDEBOTTOM, David WAINWRIGHT, Steve PATTERSON, Gary BALLANCE and Azeem RAFIQ.?