McDonald fires Foxes into quarters
Stand-in captain Andrew McDonald struck a Twenty20-best 96 not out as Leicestershire qualified for the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals and all but ended Yorkshire’s hopes of progression with a convincing 18-run victory at Headingley Carnegie.
In a rain-affected clash that was reduced to 19 overs per side, McDonald hit nine fours and three sixes in his 57-ball knock that saw him surpass Marcus Trescothick as the highest scorer in this season’s competition.
The Australian was accompanied by cameos from Will Jefferson and Josh Cobb as the Foxes, without skipper Matthew Hoggard and star batsman James Taylor, posted an impressive 191 for four.
In reply, Yorkshire made a valiant effort and, after a 42-run partnership in four overs between Gary Ballance and Jonathan Bairstow, had a sniff of victory until Jigar Naik took 3-3 in his only over to restrict the hosts to 174 for nine.
After Yorkshire won the toss, the Leicestershire openers showed no signs of vulnerability in the overcast conditions - Cobb and in-form McDonald racing to 50 inside five overs with a flurry of crunching boundaries.
The introduction of Richard Pyrah in the sixth brought the breakthrough with the score on 58 when Cobb skied the ball into the hands of Ryan Sidebottom at mid-off to depart for 26 off 15 balls.
Following a heavy storm that delayed proceedings for 45 minutes, the Foxes brought up the hundred in the 11th over with Jefferson going on the attack.
David Wainwright, recalled from his loan spell at Derbyshire to replace the injured Azeem Rafiq, ended Jefferson’s fruitful innings of 28 when Sidebottom once again held on at mid-off.
McDonald reached his sixth half-century in 12 innings, off just 35 deliveries, by smashing 21 off Adil Rashid’s final over as the leg-spinner proved expensive, conceding 58 off four overs.
Abdul Razzaq was given a life in the 15th over when Adam Lyth grassed an opportunity, diving to his right, before making up for his error two overs later when the Pakistan batsman mis-timed a Sidebottom slower ball straight into his hands at mid-on for 16.
McDonald was put down on 85 when Pyrah threw the ball back into play after appearing to step on the boundary rope at midwicket, before Ajmal Shahzad had Jacques du Toit caught by Bairstow in the deep as Leicestershire were reduced to 164 for four with two overs remaining.
McDonald was starved of the strike in the last over, denying him the chance of three figures, as Pyrah parried Wayne White - who added a precious 12 from five balls - over the boundary for six to end with a flourish.
Yorkshire’s reply started brightly with Andrew Gale and Joe Sayers putting on 34 until the former was caught and bowled by Cobb for 20.
Shahzad, promoted to number three, looked promising until he edged Harry Gurney behind for 15 as Yorkshire slipped to 53 for two in the sixth over.
Lyth holed out to McDonald on the mid-on boundary off White and Sayers soon followed as he swept Claude Henderson straight into the hands of Razzaq on the square-leg rope for a 20-ball 27.
Yorkshire slumped to 103 for five in the 12th over as Gerard Brophy looked to go over the top but could only find McDonald at extra-cover to give Henderson his second scalp.
The hosts rallied with youngsters Bairstow and Ballance - the latter was dropped on 12 - but Naik turned the game back in Leicestershire’s favour with three wickets in the 15th over.
Ballance was stumped by Paul Nixon for 25, Pyrah followed two balls later caught in the deep and Adil Rashid sliced to mid-on for a golden duck before Bairstow departed to Razzaq for 25 off 14 balls in the 17th over to signal the end of the chase.