'˜Family Fun Day' brings smiles to Vikings' faces with opening T20 victory

Yorkshire's Azeem Rafiq celebrates the wicket of Derbyshire's Chesney Hughes (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com).Yorkshire's Azeem Rafiq celebrates the wicket of Derbyshire's Chesney Hughes (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com).
Yorkshire's Azeem Rafiq celebrates the wicket of Derbyshire's Chesney Hughes (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com).

After three defeats and two washouts, Yorkshire finally got their T20 campaign off the ground with a one-run win against Derbyshire.

The home team were 67-3 from nine overs chasing 154 for victory when heavy rain washed out proceedings.

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It left Yorkshire just in front of the Duckworth-Lewis par total of 66 after nine overs, with five overs of their innings needed to constitute a match.

Although the margin of victory was wafer-thin, the fact of the matter was that a Yorkshire side boasting five current internationals and three other players with international experience was too strong for a Derbyshire team for whom only the New Zealand trio of Hamish Rutherford, Neil Broom and James Neesham had represented their country.

With England stars Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow at the crease when the heavens opened, and with plenty of firepower left in the dugout, Yorkshire were the likeliest winners in any event.

Derbyshire naturally felt a little hard done to, but their own score of 153-9 was an underwhelming effort characterised by a number of poor strokes.

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After Kane Williamson maintained Yorkshire’s 100 per cent record at the toss in limited-overs cricket this season by winning number nine, play was preceded by a minute’s silence for Jo Cox MP, impeccably observed by a crowd of 7,114.

That figure was swelled by the fact that it was Yorkshire’s “Family Fun Day”, with attractions including a giant slide, a climbing wall and “Ian’s Mobile Farm”.

But the main thing that Yorkshire’s supporters wanted to see was a much-improved display from their team in T20, which was duly forthcoming.

With Adil Rashid rested, Yorkshire handed a first appearance since July 2014 to off-spinning all-rounder Azeem Rafiq, who last week signed a contract until the end of the summer.

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After David Willey struck in the third over when Broom swished at a leg-side delivery and was caught behind, Rafiq struck with his fourth ball back in Yorkshire colours.

Chesney Hughes, who had clubbed Rafiq’s second delivery for four to the long-on boundary in front of the North East Stand, aimed an ugly off-side heave and sliced to Liam Plunkett at backward-point.

Rafiq claimed a second wicket with the third ball of his next over when Rutherford slogged him high to Adam Lyth at deep mid-off.

Left-arm spinner Karl Carver had Shiv Thakor dropped in his first over by Gary Ballance running in from deep mid-on, but he pounced in his second over when Wayne Madsen top-edged a sweep to backward square-leg, Rafiq making good ground to claim a fine diving catch.

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Thakor and Neesham added 44 for the fifth wicket inside five overs in an isolated act of defiance, Neesham clubbing a Rafiq full toss for six over mid-wicket into the East Stand.

Tim Bresnan yorked Thakor for the top-score of 30, Neesham going for 29 when he sliced Plunkett to Ballance in the covers.

Tom Poynton was run-out trying a second run to Williamson on the long-on boundary before Alex Hughes tamely tapped Bresnan to Rafiq at mid-off.

Bresnan bowled Matt Critchley with the final delivery, finishing with his team’s best figures of 3-22.

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The only thing that really threatened to stop Yorkshire was the weather, but the rain held off for just long enough at Headingley.

Willey was an early casualty, lbw to Madsen, whom Williamson then nonchalantly lofted for six over long-off.

Lyth continued his good form of recent days by smashing Ben Cotton over the long-off boundary and then rocked back to crack Neesham over the extra-cover rope.

But the left-hander fell for 30 trying to reverse-sweep leg-spinner Critchley, which left Yorkshire 52-2 in the seventh over.

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Williamson was unluckily run-out when Root drove back along the ground to Alex Hughes, the bowler, who thrust out a right hand in his follow-through and deflected it on to the stumps at the non-striker’s end.

But it made no difference to the final outcome.