Holders Northamptonshire got off to a winning start to the NatWest T20 Blast by claiming a three-wicket win over Yorkshire with a ball to spare at Headingley.
Chasing Yorkshire’s 162-7, the Steelbacks looked set to fall short when they needed 13 off the last over from Ryan Sidebottom – but Ben Duckett saw them home with an unbeaten 39.
The Vikings were grateful to all-rounders Tim Bresnan and Liam Plunkett for guiding them to their competitive total after a powerful-looking top order struggled against a disciplined visiting attack.
After winning the toss, Yorkshire slipped to 87-6 after New Zealand seamer Ian Butler dismissed Adil Rashid and Jonny Bairstow off successive balls as part of impressive figures of 4-25.
But Bresnan and Plunkett, who linked up well during Yorkshire’s victory by an innings and 155 runs against Warwickshire in the County Championship earlier this week, rescued the innings with an aggressive 64-run stand off only 38 balls.
Northants, who beat Surrey in last year’s T20 final at Edgbaston, demonstrated their capabilities with Richard Levi and David Willey giving them a flying start, reaching 45 in the sixth over.
But wickets off successive balls checked their progress, with Levi brilliantly caught by Jack Brooks in the deep before the same fielder ran out Kyle Coetzer from the non-striker’s end before he had faced a ball.
The danger man, though, was Willey – man of the match in the 2013 final – who raced to 43 off 28 balls before picking out Gary Ballance at long off to give Richard Pyrah the first of two victims.
Pyrah also claimed the key wicket of Steven Crook, who had threatened to win the game with 29 off 18 balls, when he stepped across the line and fell lbw.
But just as Yorkshire looked set to seal victory, Duckett saw Northants home by hitting 39 off 29 balls, including a six off Sidebottom’s final over.