Ben Duckett’s career-best T20 score steered Northamptonshire towards the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast.
He made 40 in 26 balls in his side’s six wicket victory with an over to spare against Yorkshire in front of a sold out Wantage Road.
On a dry wicket where clean striking was difficult, Alex Wakley’s considered 46 in 42 balls was necessary to negotiate a tricky target of 154. Northants were in control of the chase throughout, marshalled by captain Wakely, and a jaunty knock from Duckett - having answered a charge of drink-driving on Thursday - put Northants on the cusp of the quarter-finals with Yorkshire already out of the competition.
With 25 required from 24 balls, Duckett swung Liam Plunkett down the ground before stepping across his stumps to paddle sweep another boundary.
He struck a six over midwicket in the next over to kill the game and a driven four to complete victory and also brought up a career best.
The chase began brightly thanks to Richard Levi. F
ollowing his match-winning innings against Leicestershire in Northants’ previous T20, he took 25 from the third over, bowled by Plunkett. Two flicks found the midwicket boundary, with one stroke carrying the fence, and a waist-high no-ball was swung for four more fine of long leg.
But trying to come back for a second run on an overthrow, he was run out by a direct hit from Plunkett and then Josh Cobb was caught on the cover boundary first ball to check Northants’ progress.
They took 52 from the Powerplay before a stand of 62 in 7.4 overs between Wakely and David Willey - making a much-unexpected return to the side following injury.
Willey, as much as he tried, was unable to play his usual free-swinging game. He made his way to 16 from 20 balls before getting a short delivery from Matthew Waite to swing wide of long leg. He lifted his only six into the last row of the stand behind long-on before trying to repeat the stroke and finding the fielder.
His wicket brought Duckett to the crease and he saw Northants home.
The hosts appeared in control from the start having won the toss, chose to bowl first, and got through a cheap Powerplay that cost only 30. Willey opened with a wicket maiden. Will Rhodes, having been beaten twice outside off stump, received a fuller delivery that he swung his hands at, only to find Ben Duckett at extra-cover.
Then Jack Leaning, having not scored off his first three deliveries, took on Josh Cobb at mid-off and was run-out.
The first stroke in anger was a sweetly-timed straight drive for six from Alex Lees in the fifth over but his 46 in 42 balls was the only knock of substance for Yorkshire.
With the scoring rate flagging at below a run-a-ball in the eighth over, Bairstow heaved Graeme White over long-on and pulled Azharullah between deep square leg and deep midwicket but, trying to hit into the wind, found Duckett at deep midwicket.
Glenn Maxwell, who was initially scheduled to miss this match and join the Australia A squad, was left with much responsibility but fired only very briefly, swinging Steven Crook over midwicket. But trying to find the same fence to the next delivery, holed out to Willey to came in quickly to take a solid catch.
Liam Plunkett drove White down the ground for four and then lifted Willey over deep midwicket for six but he was bowled trying to paddle sweep Azharullah and Yorkshire began the final two overs on 126 for 6. Rory Klienveldt leaked 16 from the penultimate over before Azhuarullah’s final over went for 11 to give Yorkshire what appeared a competitive score, but it proved too few.