Yorkshire triumphed by 14 runs in an action-packed NatWest T20 Blast North Division clash against Leicestershire at Headingley last night.
The game seemed to be slipping away from Yorkshire as Leicestershire openers Josh Cobb and Greg Smith piled up 61 together in seven overs in response to the hosts’ 168 for five.
But then Adam Lyth and Aaron Finch combined for the second time in three matches to send back Cobb (27) and, although Smith went on to top-score with 56 from 49 balls, the rest of the Foxes line-up failed to deliver and they finished on 154 for eight.
Leicestershire captain Cobb, having struck 27 off 19 balls with three fours and a six, straight drove leg-spinner Adil Rashid high towards the boundary only for Lyth to leap high into the air and palm the ball to Finch, who dived to his right to hold a right-handed catch close to the ground. It was almost a carbon copy of their dismissal of Tom Smith in the Roses match at Old Trafford last month.
Rashid and fellow spinner Azeem Rafiq pegged back Leicestershire after their bright start, the pair conceding only 50 runs from their eight overs, but Smith remained a threat until he was fifth out at 125, paddling a ball from Tim Bresnan straight into the hands of Rashid.
Earlier in the over, Smith had gone to his half-century off 46 deliveries with four fours and a six, and was then dropped by Rafiq at deep square leg.
Rob Taylor was bowled making room against Ryan Sidebottom and Ben Raine was run out next ball by Rafiq’s direct hit as Leicestershire dipped to 128 for seven in the 17th over, and their challenge was effectively over.
It turned into a night to remember for Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale, who laid the foundations for his side’s win with his highest T20 score in two seasons, his 55 coming off 51 balls with five boundaries.
Gale, who had only managed 35 in five knocks this term, began with a flurry of boundaries but Finch had contributed only five to a 41 opening stand when he was bowled by Raine, who went on to trap Alex Lees lbw next ball.
Gale rode his luck a little, being dropped on 25 and again on 49, and he finally departed when he walked a couple of paces down the pitch to Cobb and was stumped by Ned Eckersley.
Leicestershire’s cause was not helped in the 18th over, which saw the umpires remove Nathan Buck from the attack after bowling a beamer to Bresnan. The paceman had earlier been warned for sending down another ball above the legal limit.
Bresnan and Richard Pyrah revived Yorkshire with some big hitting late on and they plundered 33 off the final two overs, Bresnan finishing unbeaten on 29 from 17 balls with two fours and a six and Pyrah including a four and a six off his 16 from nine deliveries.
The result marked Yorkshire’s fourth win of the season and pushed them into fourth place with a game in hand on the three teams above them in the table.
Vikings skipper Gale said: “We have got three matches this week and to begin with a win was just what we wanted. If we can win the other two against Durham and Worcestershire we should be in a great position for qualifying for the quarter-finals.
“I thought from a batting point of view we ware straight out of the blocks but the momentum changed with a couple of wickets in the sixth over and we kept losing wickets at just the wrong times until Bresnan and Pyrah did well in the closing overs.
“We didn’t bowl well to start and were a bit low in energy but the spinners did well and that changed the game.
“I was very pleased to get a few early boundaries and go on to make a reasonable score. Twenty20 cricket has always been my forte but for whatever reason I have lacked some rhythm this season.
“I have had a chat with both Martyn Moxon and Jason Gillespie and have made some adjustments and things came off tonight - helped by a bit of luck.”