Gary Ballance set under-manned Yorkshire up with a Royal London Cup semi-final showdown against Hampshire courtesy of a match-winning innings that knocked the wind out of Essex’s sails.
The Vikings’ 259-7 was underpinned by a fifth-wicket stand of 129 in 29 overs between Ballance, who hit 91 and Jack Leaning who managed 57.
However, Yorkshire – missing six first-teamers due to international calls – had been circumspect for much of their innings until Tim Bresnan and Matt Fisher thrashed around at a rate of 10 runs an over for the last seven to set Essex 260 to win.
On a two-paced pitch, Jamie Porter took 3-25 in nine overs of top-class bowling. Matt Coles chipped in with 2-66, while Simon Harmer kept the Yorkshire batsmen in check with 1-45.
That was nothing, though, compared to Yorkshire’s accurate attack, which bowled straight.
Essex had set off needing 5.2 an over, but that had climbed to 146 required off the last 20 overs, with half the team back in the pavilion.
The rate continued to rise and Essex finished 26 runs short with five balls left.
Captain Steve Patterson made sure Yorkshire head to Southampton next week with 4-36 as Essex laboured under the floodlights.
Only Adam Wheater, coming in at number six, offered any resistance. He was ninth out for 78 when he was bowled by Patterson.
The tone for Essex’s response was set when Alastair Cook attempted to slog Ben Coad out of the ground, but only succeeded in finding Patterson.
It was a far cry from when Porter and Coles had reduced Yorkshire to 5-2 in the second over and questioned the Vikings’ decision to bat.
Porter had Tom Kohler-Cadmore plumb in front to his first ball faced, and Harry Brook tried to cut Coles but played on.
Alex Lyth and Ballance added 40 for the third wicket before Porter took two wickets in four balls. Lyth, on 21, upper-cut to Ashar Zaidi on the third-man boundary and Jonny Tattersall was lbw.
Ballance received a match-defining life on 43 when Neil Wagner could not accept a caught-and-bowled chance low down.
Apart from two fours in Wagner’s first over, Leaning was very much the sleeping partner. Even so, the partnership reached three-figures in 23 overs.
Ballance departed shortly afterwards, swishing at Wagner and giving the catch behind. Leaning’s innings, which included five fours, eventually ground to its conclusion when he was deceived by Harmer.
Fisher pressed the accelerator when he took a dozen off an over from Coles.
Bresnan followed suit with a towering six over long leg in a seventh-wicket stand that plundered fifty in just six overs.
The pair took 15 off the penultimate over from Wagner, and had put on a quickfire 71 before Bresnan threw his bat at the final ball from Coles, missed and was bowled.