Vikings take Steelbacks to the cleaners
In a contest that was anything but, the hosts’ total of 209-7 was made to look like chicken feed as the Vikings’ opening pair of Adam Lyth and Alex Lees helped themselves.
The six-wicket margin of victory - the former posting 84 and the latter making 102 - didn’t do justice to the dominance of the Vikings as a potentially tricky-looking run chase was made to look ludicrously easy.
A wicket with a tinge of green and a forecast that hinted at further disruption meant that bowling first was the preferred option, a move taken by Andrew Gale upon winning the toss.
This was immediately justified as with the fourth ball of the first over, Tim Bresnan induced a limp waft from Stephen Peters, his first, which ended in Andrew Hodd’s gloves.
A score of 1-1 should really have been 1-2 a minute or so later but the normally reliable Adam Lyth shelled a straightforward chance offered by Kyle Coetzer at second slip.
The captain didn’t hang around too long though as Jack Brooks got one to cut back sharply and find the inside edge.
There was enough movement available to hint at further early damage but the visiting seamers weren’t quite on the money and the duo of Richard Levi and Adam Rossington were able to mount a good recovery.
A powerplay which mustered 31-2 was eased to 90 before Levi, who was uncharacteristically playing more of a supporting role, provided his third catch of the innings low to his right.
While Levi was a touch on the scratchy side, Rossington added more weight to his burgeoning stock with a fluent and well-paced effort.
There was the odd bludgeoned boundary but it was the placement and lack of non-scoring deliveries that stood out and in collaboration with Ben Duckett the score was manipulated, with 35 taken from the additional four-over powerplay, into a strong position.
Some momentum was lost when both Rossington and Duckett, for 75 and 45 respectively, fell in quick succession and with Richard Pyrah picking up some cheap wickets, the final total of 209-7 was short of what it should’ve been with only 50 being taken from the final 10 overs.
If this spell at the conclusion of the hosts’ stint was a struggle, the corresponding period at the start of the reply was the opposite.
With the minimum of fuss, Lyth and Lees, who shared a mammoth 375 partnership in the Championship back in May on the same ground, wiped 59 from the target.
Lyth coasted to a run-a-ball 50 and his junior partner wasn’t too far behind and all told, it was nothing less than an uncontested stroll.
The limitations of a weakened attack were ruthlessly exposed - Muhammad Azharullah especially who was awful - as Lees put his foot on the accelerator with a barrage of boundaries.
His hundred came just 32 balls after his 50, the first of many no doubt, as any semblance of competition vanished and although Lees fell with the score on 195 and three more late wickets fell in the space of a few minutes, the end arrived with four overs in hand.