Yorkshire eased to a 16-run victory in the Natwest T20 Blast, as Northamptonshire continue to struggle in their defence of the trophy.
David Ripley’s side have been disappointing in the tournament, compounding their misery after five successive County Championship defeats, but Yorkshire looked strong from start to finish.
The Vikings’ win never really looked in doubt as they finished on a solid score of 181-3. Captain Andrew Gale and opening partner Aaron Finch appeared to start well, before falling to Mohammad Azharulluah and Oli Stone respectively, before Alex Lees settled his side with a cool 35, eventually succumbing to an excellent catch by Kyle Coetzer, bowled by Matthew Spriegel.
Yet, it was Jonny Bairstow who consolidated Yorkshire’s hold on the match, scoring 60 as part of a fantastic partnership with Adam Lyth; their fourth wicket stand set the White Rose on course for third place in the north group of the competition.
Steelbacks fans can admittedly have had little optimism ahead of the tie, having lost twice to the evening’s opponents already this season, the most recent of those defeats coming just two weeks ago by a total of 271 runs.
The T20 proved less straightforward than Jason Gillespie’s men would have hoped, in no small part due to Richard Levi’s gallant effort, as the opener hit 76 off 47 balls. However, it proved to be in vain, and certainly seemed to be something of a solo attempt as he received little support from his team mates.
Levi was eventually caught out by Adam Lyth off the bowling of Azeem Rafiq, but that was not before he had lit up Wantage Road with two sixes in consecutive balls, before clearing the boundary again to bring up his fifty.
Perhaps spurred on by Levi, Northants favourite David Willey attempted the kind of shot being played at the other end, but was caught by Finch off Steven Patterson.
In a chase that looked to be rapidly escaping from Northants’ hands, Ben Duckett was stumped behind by Bairstow off Rafiq’s bowling. David Sales began brightly, hitting 17, but he was bowled by Richard Pyrah.
With Steven Crooks’ wicket (bowled Rashid), the Steelbacks’ last hopes were gone, and the home side’s tail end were lucky to survive the twenty overs.
Nonetheless, there were plenty of positives to take from what was a difficult fixture, though some harsh lessons will also have been learnt. Northants looked slow between the wickets for much of their innings, only finding their sense of urgency once it was too late.
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