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STEELBACKS SUFFER HOME DEFEAT AT THE HANDS OF A STRONG YORKSHIRE SIDE


Gary Ballance made a perfectly-paced 152 not out to steer Yorkshire towards the knockout stage of the Royal London Cup with a mighty 164-run win over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road, a result that knocked Northants out of the competition.

Yorkshire captain Ballance guided his side away from trouble at 73 for 4 with a controlled innings that accelerated perfectly to the fifth highest score for Yorkshire in List A cricket, helping his side reach 300 for 6, a target they defended with ease as Northants subsided to 136 all out in 28.1 overs.

Ballance has enjoyed an outstanding start to the 2017 season, shouting as loudly as can be to the England selectors, and here added a one-day century to the three already posted in the County Championship.

He needed all of his calm, controlled method to gain Yorkshire a foothold in the innings after the top four had failed. He began with consecutive boundaries off Richard Gleeson and took his third four as Gleeson returned for a second spell. Playing late with soft hands, he ran a further two boundaries to the fine third man rope before bringing up a half-century in 57 balls with seven fours.

Ballance's form was obvious but he needed a partner and found one in Matthew Waite, the 24-year-old playing just his 11th first team game for Yorkshire. He survived a straightforward missed stumping on 2 that would have seen the innings slump to 89 for 5, but thereafter, guided by his captain, ground out 41 and a partnership of 105 for the fifth wicket.

The stand set the innings up at 187 for 5 after 40 overs and the platform for an onslaught in the final 10 overs that added 113 and swung the match decisively Yorkshire’s way.

Ballance enjoyed a slice of fortune before reaching three figures with a leg-side swing against Gleeson that flew for his first six over fine third man and in Gleeson’s next over, eased a single to raise a splendid hundred, his seventh in List A cricket, in 97 balls.

Thereafter, he went on the attack. He struck three consecutive fours to help take 17 from the 46th over bowled by Gleeson and then swung his third six over square leg as 18 came from the penultimate over.

At the other end, Ballance had Adil Rashid, a very dangerous batsman but playing just his second innings of the competition. He was missed at long-on when he had just 2, Gleeson misjudging a catch that went over his head for four, and dropped by Alex Wakely at long-on on 20. Next ball he flicked a boundary wide of Wakely and thrashed Gleeson for four wide of point in the next over. 

Rashid made made 41 from 35 balls in a modest supporting role as Ballance found remarkable acceleration, adding 75 runs in just 33 balls in the final 10 overs.

It was a burst that knocked the stuffing out of Northants, whose chase was liquidated in just 16 balls of the second innings.

Josh Cobb pushed forward to a Ben Coad delivery that moved gently away to take the outside edge through to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. Richard Levi pressed the next delivery down the ground for four and sent the next straight to Peter Handscomb at deep square-leg.

David Willey, bowling the third over the innings, forced a tentative prod from Ben Duckett that he inside-edged into his middle stump and three balls later brought a full ball back into the pads of Rob Newton to trap him lbw for 4.

Thereafter there was brief hitting from Adam Rossington and Rory Kleinveldt, who both made 31, before Graeme White struck four sixes in a List A best 40 from 26 balls. When he holed out to long-on, any interest in the game was extinguished and Northants were bowled out with 22 overs remaining. 

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