By Rob Barnett
Aaron Finch “played out of his skin” to time Yorkshire Vikings’ chase “to perfection” as they stunned fierce rivals Lancashire Lightning in the NatWest T20 Blast.
That is according to skipper Andrew Gale, who largely watched the Australian’s match-winning 88 from the Emirates Old Trafford sidelines.
Finch’s opening partner fell in the first over as Yorkshire went after the Lightning’s 179 for six, built on fifties from Tom Smith and Paul Horton.
The top-ranked Twenty20 international batsman initially played within himself for most of a 99-run partnership with Alex Lees.
Once Lees was bowled for 36 by Junaid Khan, Finch opened his shoulders, including with two mighty maximums over long-on in a Jordan Clark over.
Finch’s stay ended when he sliced Smith’s slower ball to backward point at the start of the 18th over but his accelerating knock, along with six penalty runs for Lancashire’s slow over-rate, aided a five-wicket win with three balls to spare.
Gale told ecb.co.uk: “When you’ve got someone like Aaron Finch in the ranks, the number-one Twenty20 player in the world, you know if he’s there at the end you’re going to be somewhere near it and he played out of his skin.
“He showed all of his experience, timed it to perfection. After six overs I think we were only on 35 and we were well behind the run-rate.
“So to time it as he did, he’s always got those big shots up his sleeve, he took a few big overs and got us back in the game.”
Finch, who earlier caught Smith after Adam Lyth brilliantly relayed the ball as he fell over the boundary rope, reflected: “When you chase 180, it’s always going to be a good chase.
“I figured that their two big dangers were the guys who took the new ball. When you’ve got someone like Junaid Khan, whose a world-class bowler, and Kabir Ali, I figured that they were going to be my biggest threat for the innings.
“I just tried to get through that period and try to attack through the middle of the innings and a few things went my way.”