Ballance steers Yorkshire home
Yorkshire 223 for 3 (Ballance 77*) beat Derbyshire 219 for 8 (Guptill 89, Starc 3-28) by seven wickets
Yorkshire's new Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc made a great impression on his debut with 3 for 28 but it was Gary Ballance's 77 that propelled the home side to a seven-wicket win against Derbyshire at Headingley.
Ballance, in prime form at the moment, timed his innings to perfection as Yorkshire reached their 220-run target with 14 balls to spare. He faced 60 deliveries and thumped six fours and four sixes, putting on 69 for the third wicket with Phil Jaques and an unbroken 70 for the fourth with Joe Root.
Ballance has now scored 121 not out, 76 and 77 not out in his last three innings and his last three partnerships with Jaques have seen them add 203, 149 and 69 together.
All of Yorkshire's five batsmen made telling contributions, skipper Andrew Gale (33) and Adam Lyth (31) sharing an opening stand of 56 and Jaques and Root later weighing in with 47 and 28 not out respectively. But it was Ballance and Root who made it look easy for Yorkshire in the end by cracking 41 off three overs to leave the scores level at the start of the 38th over.
Ballance began the onslaught by striking Garry Park for consecutive sixes backward of square leg, following up by steering him for four to third man and Root joined in the spree with two successive boundaries off Tim Groenewald.
Yorkshire's target turned out to be a lot easier than appeared likely while Derbyshire's openers, Chesney Hughes and Martin Guptill, were putting together a rousing partnership of 137 in 25 overs. But once they had been parted, Yorkshire tightened the screw to such an extent that Derbyshire could only add 82 from 15 overs, during which time they lost eight wickets.
Hughes was first to go, bowled leg stump by Moin Ashraf for 50 from 73 balls with four boundaries, but it was Guptill who provided the real firepower with his 89 from 83 deliveries with four fours and five sixes, most of them coming from full-blooded drives.
Guptill was third out when he tried to force Anthony McGrath outside off-stump and wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy held on to the catch.
Confident batting by Hughes and Guptill had denied Starc a wicket in his opening burst of five overs but he came back strongly later on to claim 3 for 11 in his second spell. His first wicket for Yorkshire was that of Ross Whiteley who was held on the cover boundary by Lyth before Dan Redfern was caught behind attempting an audacious reverse paddle. Starc struck again with the final ball of the innings which knocked back Tom Poynton's stumps as he went for a wild swing.
Former Yorkshire all-rounder David Wainwright, who moved to Derbyshire in the close season, received a generous ovation from the home fans when he went out to bat and his unbeaten 13 included a cheeky six off Iain Wardlaw over the top of Brophy's head. Wardlaw proved expensive, conceding 63 runs.
Yorkshire omitted their out-of-form leg-spinner Adil Rashid but off-spinner Azeem Rafiq enjoyed only limited success in his place. He went for 44 runs from his eight overs and his only wicket came when he held on to a smart low return catch from Durston.