Rashid falls at the last as Foxes hold Yorkshire in T20 stalemate

WATCHING Yorkshire in Twenty20 is a bit like a love affair that is red-hot one minute and stone-cold the next.

Yorkshire shared the points with Leicestershire last night in the Twenty20 Blast match at Grace Road. The hosts scored 142-7 after being sent into bat and Yorkshire replied with 142-8 (Picture: Beth Walsh).

You never know what will happen from game to game, whether you will be smothered with the cricketing equivalent of hugs and kisses, or else treated to a performance that is akin to having your clothes cut up and thrown out the window.

Inconsistency is the word that encapsulates their efforts, which saw them go into this game third-bottom of the North Group after three victories and four defeats.

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At least it helps to keep the relationship fresh, with supporters unsure which Yorkshire they are going to get.

On an overcast and oppressive evening in Leicester (one hesitates to say that the close conditions added to the suffocating tension), so much of what Yorkshire did was good apart from the one thing that mattered – the final outcome.

The match ended as a tie, Leicestershire scoring 142-7 after being sent into bat and Yorkshire replying with 142-8, Adil Rashid falling lbw to pace bowler Ben Raine off the final ball.

Yorkshire bowled pretty well, they fielded pretty well, and, at times, they batted pretty well – and mostly in dreadful light as black skies enveloped Grace Road in the closing stages.

But having been 64-2 in the ninth over, and then requiring 24 from the last three overs with four wickets left, Yorkshire should have won and will now need a significant return from their last six games to avoid failing to qualify for the knockout stages for a second year running.

As so often happens in a close finish, the conclusion was not without controversy.

In Raine’s last over, from which five runs were needed, he bowled a leg-side bouncer to Jack Leaning which looked a no-ball on height if it was not a wide.

But umpire Graham Lloyd, to widespread amazement, saw nothing untoward – prompting one wag in the crowd to remark that it was probably too dark for him to actually see the ball.

It was a moment that Yorkshire will look back on, but they will also know it should have been irrelevant. Despite starting the game in unpromising fashion, with Steve Patterson’s first ball going for five wides, Yorkshire, for the most part, bowled fairly well.

The hosts lost the dangerous Mark Cosgrove and Kevin O’Brien in reaching 35-2 off the six-over powerplay, and the pitch did look the simplest to bat on after afternoon showers. Rashid accepted a smart caught-and-bowled chance to get rid of the New Zealander Grant Elliott, and Rich Pyrah bowled Ned Eckersley as Leicestershire slipped to 69-4.

They needed a fine contribution from Andrea Agathangelou to get them up to a competitive score.

The Cypriot used the long handle to good effect, striking 14 off three successive deliveries from Will Rhodes before being run-out off his next ball.

Agathangelou’s 40, made from 26 balls with four fours and a six, was the highest score of the innings, and he added 45 for the fifth-wicket with Niall O’Brien, who hit 25.

Patterson, Pyrah, Rashid and Matthew Fisher all did well, Fisher returning the best figures of 1-22 from four overs.

Yorkshire’s reply began badly when Aaron Finch suffered another disappointment.

The Australian followed scores of 5, 6 and 30 in the Blast with two on this occasion, falling lbw to Clint McKay.

Yorkshire slipped to 12-2 in the third when Andrew Hodd was lbw to Raine, but Jonny Bairstow changed the complexion of the game with an innings full of savage strokeplay.

Bairstow got into his stride by pulling Kevin O’Brien for six and then simply brutalised his next delivery through the covers for four, one of the hardest-hit strokes one could possibly see.

Bairstow also hit the spinner Jigar Naik for a straight six and clubbed Raine for a maximum over mid-wicket.

But his dismissal for 37 from 22, bowled trying to pull a ball from Raine, triggered a collapse as Yorkshire slid from the relative comfort of 64-2 to a comparatively precarious 79-5.

Glenn Maxwell soon followed Bairstow back to the pavilion after flicking Ollie Freckingham straight to mid-wicket.

Take out Maxwell’s magnificent 92 not out against Notts, and his Blast scores read: 20, 8, 18, 2, 0 and 10. Andrew Gale was fifth out for 23, and Yorkshire were grateful to Leaning for hoisting them back into contention. The 21-year-old – initially with help from Rhodes – on his way to an unbeaten 48. Leaning deserved to finish on the winning side, but Yorkshire’s inconsistency once more surfaced.