IT WOULD be premature to say that Yorkshire have one foot in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals, but they perhaps placed a big toe into the knockout stages with a 24-run win against Durham last night.
Yorkshire’s third successive victory in the tournament kept them top of the North Group with four wins from seven at the halfway stage of the group campaign.
It also deepened Durham’s plight at the bottom, with the visitors having lost six from six – their worst sequence in a T20 season.
Last year, Durham beat Yorkshire in the semi-finals before losing to eventual champions Northants at Edgbaston, but now it is Yorkshire who have the look of potential champions if they maintain their present splendid form.
On a pleasant evening, with a hitherto poor day weather-wise ending in sunshine, Yorkshire scored 152-8 after winning the toss.
It was not as explosive as some of their innings this season, but then the pitch was not particularly suited to explosive strokeplay.
The hosts struggled to adapt at times, but they still raised a more than competitive score, usual suspect David Willey leading the way with 44 from 27 including three fours and four sixes, and Shaun Marsh striking 36 from 31.
Durham, a depleted shadow of the side that they were last year, never threatened to pull off a heist, stumbling to 128-7 in reply, leg-spinner Adil Rashid claiming a T20 career-best 4-19.
Before a crowd of 9,046, Yorkshire made two changes to the side that beat Worcestershire on Sunday. Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who was unavailable for that match, replaced Alex Lees at the top of the order.
And Karl Carver, the 21-year-old left-arm spinner who was struck for six sixes in an over by Worcestershire’s Ross Whiteley, was replaced by pace bowler Matthew Fisher.
Yorkshire made a disappointing start, losing both openers in the first nine balls. Adam Lyth skied Chris Rushworth to mid-on and Kohler-Cadmore slapped James Weighell to cover, leaving the hosts 1-2. With the boundaries bigger than they were on Sunday, and the pitch slower, a comparable match aggregate of 429 runs was never in the offing.
Whereas Yorkshire scored 78-1 in the six-over powerplay against Worcestershire, they were 29-2 at the same stage here, Rushworth leading a disciplined bowling display by the visiting team.
Willey struck the first six of the night in the seventh over, launching the spin of Ryan Pringle straight towards the Football Stand. The England man followed up with successive sixes over mid-wicket off Paul Collingwood and hit a fourth maximum when he again lifted Pringle straight – one ball after being dropped on 34 off the same bowler by Jack Burnham at deep backward square-leg, the ball trickling away for four.
Pringle had his revenge when Willey skied high into the leg-side, wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter judging the catch, and Yorkshire slipped to 81-4 when Poynter stumped Peter Handscomb while standing up to Collingwood.
Collingwood then had Rashid caught at deep mid-wicket and bowled Marsh swinging to leg, leaving Yorkshire 103-6.
Tim Bresnan thumped 22 from 16, including two leg-side sixes, before picking out short third-man off Paul Coughlin, who also had Azeem Rafiq held behind when the spinner tried to ramp the ball over the keeper’s head.
Like Yorkshire, Durham lost early wickets, slipping to 17-2 inside four overs.
Bresnan took the wicket of Cameron Steel, caught at slip, and the chase rapidly disintegrated at the hands of the wily Rashid.
The 29-year-old had Collingwood caught at deep-square before bowling Michael Richardson. He followed up by having Coughlin taken at long-on and Burnham stumped. Bresnan was equally economical while Steve Patterson captured the other wicket.