Willey returns to haunt his old mates
A bruising knock of 74 by David Willey against his former club was largely responsible for Yorkshire Vikings beating North Group leaders, Northants Steelbacks, by 75 runs at Headingley to boost their chances of reaching the quarter-final stages of the NatWest T20 Blast.
Chasing a formidable target of 216, Steelbacks showed plenty of aggression early on but then collapsed to 140 all out in 15.2 overs, Richard Levi being unable to bat after injuring himself while taking a catch.
Now the two sides meet with everything to play for in the final match in the group stages at Wantage Road next Friday.
For the second time in three days, Yorkshire managed to roar past the 200 mark after winning the toss and batting first and this time in was Willey who inflicted most of the damage with his blistering 74 using up just 46 deliveries with five fours and six sixes.
Adam Lyth on this occasion went early to a well-judged catch by Seekhuge Prasanna off the nippy Richard Gleeson but skipper, Alex Lees, then joined Willey in the major partnership of the innings, the second wicket pair adding 106 together in ten overs.
Lees got things moving by striking Gleeson for three consecutive boundaries as 43 came off the powerplay overs. Willey joined in the spree, taking sixes off Prasanna and Cobb before blasting Graeme White for two sixes and a four, also off successive deliveries.
Willey’s first 50 in any domestic cricket for Yorkshire came off 31 balls with three fours and four sixes but the stand ended when Lees was brilliantly caught right-handed by Richard Levi at backward point for 35 from 27 balls with five fours, the fielder injuring himself in the process.
Former Yorkshire paceman, Moin Ashraf, had Willey caught in the deep to make it 137 for three in the 14th over and, with the bit between their teeth, the Vikings kept the runs flowing, Jack Leaning smacking 30 off 14 balls with three fours and two sixes while Tim Bresnan was even more punishing near the end, his unbeaten 26 taking nine deliveries off which he smashed three sixes.
Once again, Australian, Travis Head, stayed calmly in control and was not out until the final over when he was bowled by Ashraf for 22 from 17 balls with two maximums.
Steelbacks showed plenty of pluck when they began their reply, Josh Cobb straight driving Bresnan for six before he gave the bowler a return catch but then Ben Duckett rose to the occasion by slamming the former England bowler for five fours in an over.
The pressure eased as Adam Rossington and skipper Alex Wakely departed to consecutive balls from Liam Plunkett and the hammer blow on Steelbacks was inflicted by Adil Rashid who was able to take his place in the side after being left out by England at Old Trafford.
The leg-spinner had Duckett stumped by Andy Hodd for 51 from 23 balls with nine fours and a six. There was a brave effort, also, from Steven Crook who hit 43 from 26 balls with six fours and a six but once he fell lbw to Azeem Rafiq the visitors were 133 for seven in the 14th over and the end came quickly.