Steelbacks start their defence with a win over Yorkshire

Yorkshire v Northants T20#Butler gets the wicket of Jonny Bairstow
Yorkshire v Northants T20#Butler gets the wicket of Jonny Bairstow
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Northamptonshire launched the defence of their Twenty20 title with a win over Yorkshire.

And it was done in thrilling style.

Yorkshire v Northants  T20 Nat West Blast Headingley fri 16th may 2014'Steven Crook of Northants

Yorkshire v Northants T20 Nat West Blast Headingley fri 16th may 2014'Steven Crook of Northants

Ben Duckett was the hero as he saw it through and enabled Graeme White to hit the penultimate ball for four and seal the three-wicket success.

New Zealand seamer Ian Butler took 4-15 on debut and David Willey smashed a brutal 43 at the top of the order before Duckett’s unbeaten 39 saw them home.

Liam Plunkett and Tim Bresnan’s 54-run stand, from a very wobbly 87 for six, made a match of it by rescuing 162 for seven after Yorkshire chose to bat.

Willey provided the run chase with telling momentum, enough to withstand a mid-innings fightback via Richard Pyrah’s two for 21 in his full four overs.

Yorkshire v Northants  T20 Nat West Blast Headingley fri 16th may 2014'Duckett hits four runs for Northants

Yorkshire v Northants T20 Nat West Blast Headingley fri 16th may 2014'Duckett hits four runs for Northants

After an opening stand of 45, Willey’s partner Richard Levi became the first of two victims in successive balls for Jack Brooks in the field - against his old club.

Brooks held a steepling catch at long leg off Plunkett and then, up to short third-man next ball to Willey, ran out Kyle Coetzer for nought without receiving a ball.

Willey had clubbed three fours and three sixes when he failed to get quite enough on another big hit at Pyrah, and was caught at long off.

It seemed Yorkshire might be edging the verdict, especially when Pyrah had danger man Steven Crook lbw with his final delivery - but Duckett had other ideas.

Yorkshire v Northants  T20 Nat West Blast Headingley fri 16th may 2014'Steven Crook of Northsants

Yorkshire v Northants T20 Nat West Blast Headingley fri 16th may 2014'Steven Crook of Northsants

The hosts had appeared set to fall well under par with the bat, losing regular wickets until Plunkett and Bresnan dug in.

First-change Butler started their problems when he struck with his second delivery, Andrew Gale very well-caught at deep mid-off by a tumbling Coetzer in the third over.

Kane Williamson started well only to be run out by Willey’s direct hit to the non-striker’s end from backward-point, and Joe Root’s attempt to manufacture runs fine on the leg-side by going across his stumps resulted in an lbw departure to Azhar Ullah.

Every Yorkshire batsman but Gale got a start, the sequence continuing with Gary Ballance - sweeping slow left-armer Graeme White aerially to short fine-leg - and Adil Rashid holing out to another good catch at long on off Butler.

Yorkshire v Northants  T20 Nat West Blast Headingley fri 16th may 2014'Graeme White hits a four to win the game for Northants

Yorkshire v Northants T20 Nat West Blast Headingley fri 16th may 2014'Graeme White hits a four to win the game for Northants

Jonny Bairstow hit well and with his trademark power until he went lbw aiming leg-side to put Butler on a hat-trick in the 13th over, and leave Bresnan and Plunkett with plenty to do.

They did not disappoint the raucous home crowd, Plunkett setting the tone and dominating a half-century stand in 38 balls which helped to ensure the tense finish.

But it was Duckett, and ultimately White, who made the decisive contributions.