Yorkshire got their T20 Blast campaign off to a successful start with a seven-wicket win over Worcestershire Rapids.
Harry Brook and Joe Root, surely the two finest batsmen in England right now, shared an unbroken 87 from 44 balls to help the hosts overhaul 172-9 with 11 balls left.
Brook hit 60 from 27 balls with six fours and three sixes – his ninth 50-plus score in 10 innings this year – and Root 35 from 24 deliveries with four fours. Earlier, Jordan Thompson took 3-35.
Before a crowd of 4,717, and on a night when the Yorkshire live stream crept into five figures, the Rapids made a deceptively rapid start. They were 70-2 at the end of the six-over powerplay, taking 42 off the last two overs of it as Thompson’s opening over disappeared for 22 and Root’s for 20.
Root was leading Yorkshire in the absence of David Willey, who was at the Indian Premier League, and the hosts landed an early blow when Ed Pollock fell to the 11th ball of an initially sunny evening that soon clouded over, the left-hander bowled playing down the wrong line to a full delivery from Dom Bess.
Brett D’Oliveira and Jack Haynes added 63 for the second-wicket from just 25 balls before D’Oliveira fell to the final delivery of the powerplay, slicing Root to backward-point where Shadab Khan took the catch on his Yorkshire debut.
Shadab was one of three frontline spinners in the Yorkshire team along with Bess and Adil Rashid, who was making his first appearance of the season, and the hosts also had the part-time spin options of Adam Lyth and Dawid Malan in addition to Root.
But it was seam that did the trick next as Matthew Revis ended a third-wicket stand of 53 between Haynes and Jake Libby from 36 balls, Haynes pulling to Thompson at deep mid-wicket to give Revis his first wicket in the 20-over format.
Haynes’s 61 included successive sixes off Shadab – one over long-on, the other slog-swept – en route to a half-century from 27 balls. The young right-hander faced 33 deliveries in total, striking five sixes, and the innings tailed away after his departure as Yorkshire dragged things back and stifled the run-rate.
Thompson came back strongly from his disappointing first over with two wickets in his second, Ben Cox chipping to Brook at long-on and Jake Libby carving to Lyth at cover, leaving Worcestershire 146-5 in the 16th. That became 147-6 in the 17th when Gareth Roderick was run out by Haris Rauf, the bowler, who then had Ed Barnard chopping on in the penultimate over.
Josh Baker chipped to Brook at mid-wicket to give Thompson his third wicket in a final over that cost only four runs, Pat Brown falling to the last ball when he played to deep point where Malan’s quick return was calmly processed by Tom Kohler-Cadmore, also making his first appearance of the season after concussion. Only 31 came from the last five overs as the Rapids simply ran out of steam.
Yorkshire’s chase was given immediate momentum by Lyth and Malan.
Malan launched a lovely six off the left-arm spinner Baker over cover and then dispatched pace bowler Dillon Pennington high over mid-on, Lyth getting in on the six-hitting act when he clubbed Pennington beyond square-leg.
Yorkshire were 59-0 after the powerplay and had reached 70 in the eighth over when Lyth fell, levering Barnard out to Roderick at deep cover. Lyth’s 40 from 24 balls with four fours and two sixes was followed by the departure of Kohler-Cadmore for a single, bowled swinging across the line at leg-spinner D’Oliveira.
Yorkshire were 80-2 after 10 overs – 20 behind Worcestershire at the same stage – and slipped to 88-3 in the 11th when Malan pulled Charlie Barnard to Morris at deep mid-wicket to fall for 33 from 30.
Brook played some crunching shots, launching Barnard into the stand over long-off and then showing his inventiveness by uppercutting Brown into the crowd, while Root displayed all his class and experience, the pair leading the bowlers a merry dance.