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Clark heroics not enough
Clark heroics not enough
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Jordan Clark hit a whirlwind 38 to give Lancashire a chance of an unlikely victory at Headingley, but the home side prevailed to win by 11 runs

Writing about a Twenty20 match is rather like scrambling eggs: if you take your eyes off the action for a moment or two, you run the risk of missing vital developments.

Thus it was that the journos in the Headingley press box - sorry, the Kilner Suite - were already writing up Yorkshire's t20 victory on Friday evening and almost missed a savage late assault by Lancashire's Jordan Clark which meant that there was nearly no victory to write about.
 
Given that the Leeds WiFi made Friday's weather forecast seem the epitome of reliability, the scribes can perhaps be excused their momentary collective lapse as they strove to find a nano-second when cyberspace would conduct their reflections to the outside world.
 
Nevertheless, the last two overs were a further reminder that nothing can be taken for granted in cricket's shortest form, especially when as uninhibited a hitter as Clark is at the crease.
 
Needing 36 off the last two overs of the match and with only Clark and last man Gary Keedy at the wicket, the Red Rose did indeed seem ripe for the compost heap   
 
But the Cumbrian batsman hit two huge sixes and a four off Richard Pyrah as Lancashire's last pair scored 24 runs off the game's penultimate over. The visitors' chances were only finally extinguished when Clark was run out by keeper Jonny Bairstow when trying to get the strike off the first ball of the last over.
 
Clark's heroics - he hit three fours and two maximums in his 18-ball innings of 38 - meant that the White Rose side's victory on their own ground was nearly as tense as their two-wicket win at Old Trafford seven days previously.
 
"It was always going to be a difficult task against experienced bowlers like Ryan Sidebottom but I just tried to keep to my gameplan and hit straight and strong and try to pull it off," said Clark. 
 
Despite Karl Brown's 35 and Gareth Cross's 30, Stephen Croft's batsmen were behind the run rate for most of their innings and only rarely looked likely to score the 179 runs they needed to return to the top four places in the North Division table.
 
Cheered on by a 13,000 crowd, the Yorkshire spinners did most of the damage on Friday evening, Adil Rashid taking four for 26, including three in his final over, and Azeem Rafiq, two for 26.
 
It was also tough going for Lancashire's bowlers in the first half of the contest as Yorkshire piled up a very respectable total on a blameless Headingley wicket.
 
Torturer-in-chief was Man of the Match Andrew Gale, who made 60 from 46 deliveries, but the home skipper was ably assisted by Bairstow, who contributed a 19-ball 32 to the first-wicket partnership of 69 in 7.3 overs.
 
And after Bairstow had been dismissed, attempting to reverse sweep Keedy, Yorkshire's momentum was maintained by Gale and Adam Lyth, who put on 75 for the second wicket from 45 balls
 
Gale was eventually caught at cover by Stephen Moore when he miscued a Tom Smith full toss but Gary Ballance ensured that Smith's joy was short lived when he hit the seamer for two consecutive sixes in the 18th over.
 
By that stage, Lyth had departed for 45, caught and bowled by Sajid Mahmood, who was the most effective member of Lancashire's attack. In his first match since recovering from a hip injury, the Red Rose fast bowler conceded just 20 runs from his four overs and employed both bouncers and slower balls intelligently.
 
Kyle Hogg conceded 35 runs off his three overs but had the consolation of dismissing Ajmal Shahzad with the penultimate ball of the innings.
 
Slow left-armers Stephen Parry and Gary Keedy did their best to keep a lid on the run rate but still went for 29 and 30 runs respectively as the Yorkshire top order deployed an array of authentic cricket shots rather than ugly short-format slogs.
 
It was a tactic which served Clark well too, but it was not enough to prevent his side losing their third t20 match in 10 days.

Paul Edwards
Photo (c) John Riding
Article is copyright of Lancashire CCC and may not be reproduced without permission

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