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Shahzad saves Yorkshire

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Ajmal Shahzad

Ajmal Shahzad hit an unbeaten 17 from just eight balls to guide Yorkshire to a narrow victory over Leicestershire

A late blast from Ajmal Shahzad rescued Yorkshire just when it seemed as if they were going to crash to defeat in their opening Twenty20 Cup clash with Leicestershire at Headingley Carnegie.

Chasing a 149-run target, Yorkshire made a good start to their reply but a cluster of wickets left them struggling on 127 for seven with only two overs remaining.

Man-of-the-match Shahzad then took two off Jim Allenby’s first delivery before driving his next ball high to long on where James Taylor managed to get both hands to the ball, only to see it slip from his grasp and go over the rope for six.

Shahzad, to the delight of the 5,300 crowd, celebrated with a sizzling straight drive for four and with 16 coming off the over, Yorkshire were very much back in the match.

Simon Guy failed to score off Wayne White’s opening ball but edged his next to the third man boundary and after taking a single it was left to Shahzad to dash the winning run with one ball to spare.

Andrew Gale and skipper Anthony McGrath wasted no time in rattling up the runs in an opening stand which brought Yorkshire 58 in seven overs before McGrath was caught on the extra cover boundary for 30 from 21 balls with four fours and a six.

Gale departed in the next over for 27 off 25 balls with four boundaries when he cut Claude Henderson to Allenby at backward point, but a 46-run stand between Michael Vaughan and Jacques Rudolph kept the score ticking over nicely.

However, with the score on 110, Rudolph was brilliantly held by Taylor to a skimming catch in front of the Yorkshire bench at long on.

And after Adam Lyth had departed cheaply, Vaughan was lbw to Jigar Naik for his side’s top score of 35 from 30 balls with three well-placed fours.

Richard Pyrah was out without scoring and Yorkshire dipped to 125 for seven when Rana Naved-ul-Hasan edged a ball from White which seamed away from him to wicketkeeper Paul Nixon.

Rana was only given the green light to play a couple of hours before the game started when Yorkshire chief executive Stuart Regan announced that the Pakistani had just received a signed termination agreement from the Indian Cricket League, which cleared him to play in the Twenty20 Cup without risk of Yorkshire being ruled out of the Champions League, should they qualify.

Winning the toss, Leicestershire were never able to break free from tight bowling although opener HD Ackerman batted through the innings to make an unbeaten 66 out of 148 for three, striking three fours and two sixes off the 56 balls he received.

Taylor and Nixon each chipped in with 31 but none of the Yorkshire bowlers suffered too much damage, apart from Pyrah whose three overs cost him 36 runs.

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