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Ballance keeps Yorkshire from falling

Yorkshire Bank

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Gary Ballance and Azeem Rafiq spared Yorkshire's blushes at Headingley Carnegie after the Unicorns had threatened to pull off a shock victory in the Clydesdale Bank 40 Group C encounter.

Chasing a modest revised target of 162 in 37 overs, Yorkshire appeared to be cruising at 34 without loss, only to lose four wickets for seven runs in the space of 22 deliveries. When rain caused a brief interruption at 78 for five in 18.4 overs they were well behind the required rate.

Fortunately for the home side, Ballance kept his nerve with a fine unbeaten 69 and he was well supported by Rafiq, who made 34.

The pair put on an unbroken 91 to haul Yorkshire back into the match and they went on to win by five wickets with three overs remaining.

The slide began when paceman Robert Woolley came into the attack and his first ball sent captain Andrew Gale's off stump flying.

In the next over Adam Lyth edged Glen Querl to wicketkeeper Tom New and it became four wickets in as many overs as Woolley had Phil Jaques taken at first slip and David Miller was caught behind off Querl without scoring.

Gary Ballance

Gary Ballance's unbeaten 69 aided a recovery from 41 for four as Yorkshire comfortably beat the Unicorns at Headingley Carnegie

Ballance and Adil Rashid appeared to be getting on top of the situation until the latter fell lbw to Paul Hindmarch the delivery after flicking him over backward square-leg for six.

The short rain break seemed to settle Yorkshire's nerves and the batsmen began to take control, Ballance reverse-sweeping Luke Beaven for four and Rafiq driving Bradley Wadlan to the cover boundary.

Ballance off-drove Beaven for a mighty six to reach his half-century off 76 balls and when he hit the winning boundary he had received 83 balls and struck six fours and a six. Against the same opponents at Scarborough earlier in the season, Ballance plundered 103 not out.

Put in to bat, the Unicorns were never able to break free from the stranglehold imposed on them by Ryan Sidebottom and Rashid.

Their total of 150 for six from 37 overs owed much to an unbroken partnership of 56 between skipper Keith Parsons and Woolley.

Making his first appearance in just over six weeks after recovering from a calf injury, Sidebottom swung the ball appreciably in the humid conditions and he struck in his opening over when Wadlan offered no stroke and had his leg stump flattened.

Vishal Tripathi and New tried hard to settle the innings down but at 32 in the ninth over Sidebottom struck again by dismissing New, the left-hander nibbling outside off-stump to give a catch to 22-year-old debutant wicketkeeper Dan Hodgson.

Moin Ashraf held on to a return catch from Jayden Levitt before Rashid joined the attack in the 15th over and began with two wickets in his first over, bowling the patient Tripathi with a googly and trapping James Ord lbw with a similar delivery.

He went on to bowl Luis Reece, whose only boundary was a big six off Rafiq, for 25 and Rashid's final figures of 3-24 followed hot on the heels of his career-best 4-38 against Northamptonshire in the previous match.

At 94 for six in 27 overs, a complete slump was prevented by Parsons and Woolley, but a sudden break for rain at 141 for six from 36.1 overs brought about a reduction.

With only five balls remaining on the resumption, Parsons immediately belted Sidebottom for six over midwicket. His unbeaten 48 came off 60 deliveries with two fours and a six while Woolley made 28 not out with three fours.

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