- Uva v Yorkshire, CLT20, Qualifying Tournament Pool 2, Johannesburg
Brave Miller takes Yorkshire home
Yorkshire were presented with a homely welcome for their opening game of the Champions League T20 qualifier against Uva, the Sri Lankan champions. Cloudy skies, following rain earlier in the day, and a green pitch were as close to Headingley as they could have wished for in an overseas tournament.
But it was Yorkshire's South African overseas player, David Miller, who got them over the line in a chase that should have been more straightforward than it proved as Yorkshire stumbled against the spin of Dilshan Munaweera. Miller returned from a nasty blow to the face from Umar Gul to win the game with a blast of 17 runs in six balls to get Yorkshire home when 18 were needed from 10 balls.
Munaweera bowled the second over outside the Powerplay, which yielded 57 runs. Phil Jaques, who played 11 Tests for Australia but now plays English cricket under a British passport, had smashed 32 in 21 balls but backing away to drive Munaweera's third ball down the ground, chipped a catch back to the bowler. Gary Ballance, who enjoyed his best season in 2012, was then bowled first ball backing to leg.
Adil Rashid survived the hat-trick and held the innings together with his best Twenty20 score. It would have been a pleasing knock for Rashid who endured a difficult domestic season, being dropped from the County Championship team for the first time in his career.
For a while it was Rashid or nothing for Yorkshire. Miller received a quick bouncer from Umar Gul that crashed into his face and forced him from the field with a bloodied nose. It was a delivery that demonstrated the pace of the wicket. It left Rashid and Dan Hodgson, the wicketkeeper who had previously played six List A matches for Yorkshire, to take up the chase. Hodgson could only work a run-a-ball supporting innings and it was Rashid that had to find the boundaries with 48 required from 30 balls.
He lifted Jacob Oram, who went for 42 in four overs, for six before adding two fours off Gul to leave 18 from 12 with Hodgson on strike and Munaweera bowling the penultimate over. A dot ball forced Hodgson to charge the bowler. He missed, was stumped, and provided the opening Miller needed to add to his run-a-ball 22.
First ball, he reached out to a full delivery and cracked it over point, almost for six. The next ball did carry over the ropes, taken from outside off over long on, before a third boundary - four past extra cover - left only three needed from the last over. Too few even for Gul to defend.
The win was relief for Yorkshire who should have cruised home on a hard, fast wicket after restricting Uva to a below-par total. As a result of the green wicket and cloud cover, Andrew Gale decided to bowl first but Yorkshire were far from their best in the field or with the ball.
Striking through the line appeared to be the best way to play with the ball coming onto the bat nicely but only two batsman utilised that advantage and both innings were too brief to help build a commanding total. Munaweera, one of three Uva players fresh from the World T20, opened the batting content to use his feet to the seamers and hit over the offside. He lifted Steven Patterson for six in his first over but after another three fours, tried to play the same lofted drive without moving his feet and found a diving David Miller at cover.
The failure to trust the surface enabled spin to play a larger part than it should have. Azeem Rafiq in particular was economical, conceding 25 in his four overs, as the batsman resorted to nudging and deflecting. There was a lack of clean hitting with Andrew McDonald and Jacob Oram both failing.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul is not big hitter but used his touch game to be the mainstay of the innings: shuffling, angling, flicking, sweeping, all a little ungainly but reliably effective for 27 at above a run-a-ball. He and McDonald added 38 in 31 balls but neither led the innings and Uva ended up 20 runs short.
The should have made more against an attack that was at times wayward, seven wides were sent down, and often too short, particularly the seamers early on: Uva scored 41 in the first five overs. The pick of the bowlers was Moin Ashraf who found his line better than Ryan Sidebottom or Steven Patterson. But his figures were greyed by Thilina Kandamby finding his range in his final over, the 19th of the innings which went for 14. It was late progress that pushed Uva's total to a useful score.
The total was aided by several lapses in the field that Yorkshire could have lived to regret - a lift down the ground from McDonald landed between fielders, Patterson also spilled a caught and bowled chance and fumbled a ball over the third man rope after a long chase. But despite their shortcomings, Yorkshire held together for an opening win.
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo