The international stars greeted the T20 Blast on Friday as Joe Root, Jason Roy and Chris Gayle all starred to light up the Natwest Blast.
Joe Root’s unbeaten 92 wasn’t enough to stop Yorkshire falling to defeat against their Red Rose rivals Lancashire at Old Trafford. The England poster boy struck eight fours and three sixes but could prevent his side from defeat as Lancashire took revenge on their White Rose counterparts after falling to a heavy defeat in the County Championship earlier in the week. Karl Brown and Liam Livingstone both impressed as the hosts racked up a mammoth 204/7 from their 20 overs to take complete control of their Battle of the Roses encounter in front of raucous Manchester crowd. Despite losing big-hitting Kiwi Martin Guptill early for thirteen and fellow opener Alviro Petersen for 16 the hosts recovered to find themselves in a dominant position after the halfway point of their innings. Brown and Livingstone shared 98 for the third wicket as the Red Rose began to show their limited overs qualities. Livingstone struck four sixes and six fours during his 38-ball stay at the crease to wrestle back the initiative. Indeed, he had made 55 before falling to Liam Plunkett (1-39) to bring an end to an entertaining partnership between the pair. Brown continued on his merry way alongside England’s Jos Buttler who added some international class to proceedings. The wicketkeeper struck two sixes and a four during his 11-ball cameo. With the total on 160, Buttler fell, he struck Ben Coad to Tim Bresnan to depart for an entertaining 23. Five balls later, Steve Patterson removed the dangerous Brown for 54, he had smashed three sixes and a couple of fours during his innings but he departed when he offered a simple catch to Gary Ballance to leave his side on 167/5. Suddenly, the winless visitors were fighting back and beginning to silence the host crowd. Jordan Clark soon had them in full voice again though striking the Yorkshire attack around the park including a huge six to reach 28 off just 14 balls before becoming one of three Tim Bresnan victims. By then, though, the big-hitting all-rounder had taken the hosts past 200 and into a very dominant position. Bresnan struck again before the innings was brought to an end dismissing Neil Wagner with the last ball of the Lancashire innings that ended on 204/7.
It was a mammoth total, and Lancashire’s bowlers made it even more difficult for the visitors bowling tight lines and restricting the Tykes to singles and twos more often than not. The host’s spinners were particularly impressive out bowling their White Rose counterparts with Aaron Lilley producing figures of 2-23 for the hosts. The spinner removed the dangerous Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan to put the hosts firmly in the box seat. Bairstow can count himself a little unlucky as it appeared the England man missed the ball, but he was triggered and he had to walk back to the dugout. George Edwards’ played his part too in a memorable Lancashire win collecting three wickets, avoiding cramp in the process to hold his nerve to bowl tight overs late on. It was becoming more and more evident that if the visitors were going to get even close that it would come down to Joe Root. Root produced a batting masterclass striking eight fours and three sixes on his way to a classy unbeaten 92, but he lacked support and he was visibly frustrated throughout his innings as the game drifted away from the visitors. Only Plunkett threatened to support the England man as he struck a well-made 22 but his departure in the final over sparked the end, and Edwards continued to impress going for just four in his final over to seal a first win of the campaign for Lancashire by 26 runs.
Elsewhere, Worcestershire’s unbeaten run came to an end at Wantage Road as Northamptonshire stroll to success. The Rapids usually reliable batting line-up failed them for a change as they could only muster a disappointing 144/6 from their 20 overs. The spin of Seekkuge Prasanna frustrated the visitors with the Sri Lankan only going for 21 from his fours overs as he slowed the tempo of the Rapids’ innings during the middle overs. The visitors poor start cost them dear though after electing to bat the Pears found themselves on 32/3 midway through the power play with key players Moeen Ali and Tom Kohler-Cadmore already back in the hutch. Daryl Mitchell and Alexei Kervezee offered brief resistance sharing 33 for the fourth wicket before Graeme White removed the Dutchman for 14, caught by Prasanna. Ross Whiteley joined the skipper and the pair took the score past the hundred mark. Whiteley was the more aggressive of the two, as Mitchell looked to be the glue of the innings. Indeed, Whiteley struck one six and a brace of fours during his 17-ball stay at the crease. Steven Crook was introduced into the attack for a single over of medium pace, and the all-rounder did the trick removing Whiteley for 23. Brett D’Oliveria suffered a rare failure only strike 18 before hitting Rory Kleinveldt to Crook to leave the Rapids on 133/6 in the final over. Ben Cox hit a quick-fire 10 guide the visitors to 144. Mitchell top-scored for the Pears with an unbeaten 44, but his innings was pedestrian at best with the skipper striking just two fours during his stay.
Despite losing Adam Rossington early, for 11, the hosts looked in control throughout with opener Richard Levi propelling the Steelbacks into a dominant position. The South African struck eight fours and a six during his 25-ball stay at the crease to guide his side to 75/2 from seven overs before offering up a caught and bowled chance to D’Oliveira. Josh Cobb though continued and reached deserved half-century moments before the hosts reached their victory target. The all-rounder hit five fours and three sixes during his 45-ball stay at the crease. Ben Duckett offered support to Cobb as the pair chipped away at their lowly target dealing in clever twos and the odd boundary in doing so and when Duckett departed the Steelbacks required just 26 to win off six-and-a-half overs. Cobb and Crook ensured the hosts would achieve that securing victory with 19-balls to spare. The Steelbacks remain unbeaten in the competition with their latest win taking them to six points from six.
Varun Chopra struck a brilliant unbeaten 97 to guide his side to a nine-wicket win over Durham as the Bears returned to winning ways at Edgbaston. Chasing 155 for victory, Chopra hit eight fours and five sixes to help his side to a comfortable victory over the Jets. Earlier in the evening, Chris Woakes collected three wickets to help restrict the visitors to a gettable total. The England man removed Phil Mustard, Paul Coughlin and the in-form Scott Borthwick to be the pick of the host bowlers. Paul Collingwood added some late impetus for the visitors striking a valuable unbeaten 40 to guide his side to 154/9, but it was always going to prove to be below par. And so it proved as Chopra and Bell got the hosts off to a flying start going at ten-an-over before the former England man fell to Borthwick for 35. Porterfield played second fiddle to Chopra who continued to carve everything bowled at him into the gaps and to the ropes more often than not as the former Essex man dominated the Birmingham chase. The Bears took a particularly liking to Ryan Pringle who’s only over went for 19 as the Bears looked to wrap up the victory in quick time. Their success was secured midway through the 17th over when fittingly Chopra pushed Usman Arshad for a couple to confirm a nine-wicket win for the hosts over a poor Durham side.
Finally, in the North Group, Derbyshire overcame Leicestershire in a low-scoring affair in Derby. James Neesham produced a fine all-round display to guide his new county to victory. He first finished with figures of 3-26, before calming the frayed nerves of the Derbyshire faithful hitting an unbeaten 29 to ensure the hosts would chase down their lowly target. The New Zealander rewarded the decision of Alex Hughes, who had elected to bowl first by removing Mark Cosgrove and Kevin O’Brien early to leave the visitors struggling on 24/3. Wayne Madsen struck with the fourth bowl of the game to remove Leicestershire skipper Mark Pettini to give the hosts a dream start. Following the departures of Cosgrove and O’Brien, the key wicket of Umar Akmal soon followed with Shiv Thakor removing the Pakistani for a duck. The Foxes familiar collapsing story continued when they fell to 49/6 with Ben Raine and Niall O’Brien both falling. Thakor continued to cause the Leicestershire batsman problems and finished with brilliant figures of 3-17 including 11 dot balls as the Foxes struggled to penetrate the Derbyshire attack. Only Neil Dexter threatened to take the visitors to a decent total striking a 34 from 33 balls. But in truth, their total of 120 all out was never going to trouble the hosts. Although, the Foxes did grab three early wickets to put doubts into the minds of the Derbyshire faithful, Hamish Rutherford, Billy Godleman and Neil Broom were all back in the dugout with just 14 on the board. The experienced duo of Chesney Hughes and Wayne Madsen steadied the ship though to take the hosts past the fifty, but Hughes soon fell with the score on 53, bowled by Dexter for 19. And when the former Middlesex man removed Madsen in the same over suddenly the Foxes believed they could pull off an unlikely win. Hughes and Neesham though had other ideas, both adding vital contributions to calm the nerves of the home fans. Hughes hit 27 before falling to Jigar Naik with the total on 103, but by then the hosts were almost home and dry. The Kiwi alongside the impressive Thakor eased the side past the finish line with Neesham ending unbeaten on 29 finishing the game with three fours and a six to his name. Thakor, meanwhile, ended the game in style smashing three fours of Kevin O’Brien’s second and final over to take his side to victory.
In the South Group, Jason Roy smashed a stunning century to take Surrey to a comprehensive victory over Sussex at Hove. After winning the toss and deciding to bat, Roy dominated his side’s score of 205/4. The England man struck 16 fours and a six as he silenced the Sussex faithful. He shared 107 for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara, who reached a maiden half-century of the summer in the T20 Blast including six fours and a six as the duo lifted the visitors to a mammoth total. Roy, Sangakkara and new signing Dwayne Bravo took a particular liking to Tymal Mills who was smashed for 55 from his four overs. Indeed, Bravo only dealt in maximums during his brief 14-ball cameo making 30 on his first start for the Londoners. Chris Jordan used his international death bowling experience to remove the pair in successive deliveries but by then the ‘Rey already had 200 on the board and looked to be in a decent position. Indeed, it proved too much for the Sharks. The host’ lost regular wickets throughout and struggled for the momentum they required to achieve victory in this mammoth chase. They lost Wednesday night’s century maker early with Chris Nash hitting Sam Curran to brother Tom for just four. The duo combined again to remove Ben Brown for 11 to leave the visitors in control with the total on 19/2. Luke Wright and the experienced Ross Taylor added 88 for the third wicket to give the hosts hope but when Wright and Taylor fell within two balls of each other the match was all but over. Zafar Ansari the man doing the damage, he first removed Wright caught by Roy for 34, two balls later he accounted for the New Zealander dragging his out of the crease to offer Gary Wilson a stumping chance that he duly took. Matt Machan added some impetus to the innings striking 27 off 13 balls including 3 sixes but by then it was too little too late for the Sharks as Surrey ran out 23 run winners.
Elsewhere, Essex felt the full force of Chris Gayle as Somerset ran out comfortable winners at Taunton. After the Eagles were asked to bat first the visitors could only manage 178/7 with Ryan ten Doeschate and Tom Westley adding the key contributions with 47 and 40 respectively. Ashar Zaidi added late runs but on a small ground with Chris Gayle and Mahela Jayawardene in the opposition ranks, 178 was never going to be enough. And so it proved as the big West Indian smashed David Masters (1-55) and Wahab Riaz (1-40) all around the Taunton Park. Gayle hit five fours and four sixes on his way to 23-ball 49 before Riaz removed him. By then though the hosts had reached 75 from just 7.1 overs. Trego picked up where Gayle left off strike five fours and six during his 16-ball cameo for 34 before he picked out Lawrence off the bowling of Zaidi as Essex began to battle back, and they would’ve felt they had a chance when Masters removed Jayawardene for just 6. But in truth, Somerset always had this game by the scruff of the neck and Jim Allenby (37 not out) and Lewis Gregory (37 not out) calmly saw the game home. The duo added 52 to take the West Country boys over the line in comfortable fashion, the hosts winning by seven wickets with 13-balls to spare.
Meanwhile, in Cardiff, Glamorgan returned to winning ways with a five-wicket win over Hampshire at the SWALEC. The host’s international bowling pair combined to reduce the south coast men to 141 all out. Dale Steyn and Michael Hogan shared seven wickets between them as they restricted the visitors to a below-par score in the Wales sunshine. The Australian Hogan removed the dangerous Michael Carberry, James Vince, Liam Dawson and Shahid Afridi to finish with impressive figures of 4-28. Whilst the express pace of Steyn was too good for the lower order of Hampshire as he mopped up the tail to ensure there would be no late heroics from the Hampshire bowlers. Adam Wheater top scored for the visitors striking 39. The former Essex man struck six fours before being stumped off the bowling of Dean Cosker. Much like their game against Essex, Glamorgan lost openers Jacques Rudolph and David Lloyd early to leave them in a spot of both but Colin Ingram and the impressive Aneurin Donald wrestled back the initiative to put the hosts back on track. Donald struck his second successive half-century in the Blast to take the hosts passed the century mark. He had shared 94 for the third wicket when he fell for 55 bowled by Dawson. The England under 19 international had struck eight fours and two sixes during his 27-ball stay. Ingram soon fell after Donald’s departure; the South African also fell to Dawson for 43 to leave the score on 108/4. Chris Cooke (24 not out) and Craig Meschede (11 not out) ensured there would be no slip-ups as the pair coolly guided the hosts to victory with 23 balls to spare.
Finally, Gloucestershire capped a fine week by winning their third game in seven days to climb to third in the South Group table. They beat Kent in style to continue their fine recent form; the visitors claimed a seven-wicket success in Beckenham. Andrew Tye collected figures of 3-18 from his four overs to help restrict the Spitfires to a disappointing 144/7. The Australian removed danger man Daniel Bell-Drummond (25) to set the tone for an impressive night for the Gloucestershire new boy. The Bristolians continued to chip away at a solid Kent batting line-up Benny Howell also producing a miserly spell to frustrate the hosts. Howell collected the important wicket of Sam Northeast who was just threatening to take the host’s to a decent score but when he fell for 35 midway through the 13th over the hosts limped to a below par score. The West Country boys got off to the ideal start with Michael Klinger and Hamish Marshall sharing 66 for the opening wicket. The Australian fell for 27 to the penultimate ball of the eighth over to James Tredwell (1-28). But Marshall and Cockbain continued to lead the visitors to the finishing post with the duo adding 64 for the next wicket. Marshall was the more aggressive of the two hitting five boundary fours and a six during his 42-ball stay. But it was to be Cockbain who fell with just 14 required for victory edging Ivan Thomas behind for 37. Three balls later, Marshall was gone for 56, bowled by Stevens, but the Kent fightback came too late as Howell and Dent guided the visitors to a comprehensive victory with four balls to spare.
Reports by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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