Lancashire Lightning lost their second thriller in three days as Yorkshire Carnegie claimed the Friends Life t20 honours at Old Trafford on Friday.
The White Rose county looked to be cruising towards their second successive North Division win after captain Andrew Gale won an important toss and elected to bowl first on another slow and low track.
Spinners Azeem Rafiq and Adil Rashid shared five wickets at a cost of only 44 runs as the Red Rose, who slipped to 62-6, could only post 122-6 from their 20 overs.
The visitors had also eased their way to a seemingly unassailable position at 71-2 in the 12th over of their chase thanks in the main to a accumulative third-wicket stand of 37 between Adam Lyth and Anthony McGrath.
But Luke Procter, who had earlier starred with the bat in the midst of a seventh-wicket stand of 60 with t20 debutant Karl Brown, then roared in and claimed three wickets to send shockwaves through the visiting dugout.
Lyth had been bowled by left-arm spinner Gary Keedy for an innings top-score of 28.
And then Procter had McGrath caught at short cover by Stephen Moore and Gerard Brophy caught at point by a diving Steven Croft with successive deliveries during his first over in this format of the game, leaving the score at 75-5 in 13th over.
That meant it was three wickets in nine balls, but there was more to come.
Gary Ballance chipped Procter to Brown at mid-off, and he finished with 3-22 from his four overs, before Rich Pyrah and Adil Rashid were run out in the 18th and 19th overs.
Pyrah was caught short going for a third run, with Jordan Clark and Croft brilliantly combining on the long-off boundary before Rashid and Rafiq had a mix-up as the pressure was ratcheted up.
But, with ten needed off the last over bowled by Tom Smith, Rafiq clinched the win for his side with two Tillakaratne Dilshan-esque scoop shots past fine-leg for four.
It meant that Yorkshire won by two wickets with just two balls to spare, also leaving skipper Croft to reflect on what might have been again following the Leicestershire match here on Wednesday.
Despite his understandable feeling of dejection, the all-rounder also insisted there were plenty of positives.
“It was a brilliant game," he said. “We didn’t score enough runs, but you can’t knock the commitment of the lads.
“In the field, the spirit was probably the best I have seen from this side. I am really proud of our bowlers. The lads fielded brilliantly and Luke Procter, bowling in Twenty20 for the first time, was awesome. He changed the game for us. There is a lot we can take from that fielding performance.”
Smith had given the Lightning plenty of hope early in the Yorkshire reply when he had Gale caught at mid-off by Brown and opening partner Jonny Bairstow caught at deep mid-wicket by Paul Horton to reduce the scoreboard to 34-2 in the fifth over.
Earlier, Smith’s night had not started well when he fell second ball of the match lbw trying to reverse sweep the leg-spin of Rashid, who also got Croft caught at long-on by Lyth with only 22 runs on the board in the fifth.
Off-spinner Rafiq then came into the attack with the score at 41-2 at the start of the eighth over.
He had Horton, also reverse sweeping, caught at deep point, he bowled Gareth Cross with a yorker and had Clark caught by Ballance at deep mid-wicket on the way to career best figures of 3-15 from four overs.
Opener Moore was then the sixth man out for a joint top-score of 34 as a mix-up with Brown saw him run out in the 13th over.
That, however, was the start of a revival for the hosts because Procter and Brown, who both notched career best scores, added their unbroken 60 to give their side plenty of hope.
Procter finished with 25 not out off 17 balls, including a four and a six, while Brown hit two fours and a six in his 34 not out off 29 balls.
Unfortunately, however, it proved to just not quite be enough.
Lancashire, who can call on the services of England’s James Anderson, face Worcestershire at New Road on Sunday afternoon. First they will have to assess the fitness of skipper Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg who both missed Friday's game.
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
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