Henderson cameo stuns Yorkshire
Middlesex 264 for 8 (Henderson 77, Hodgson 3-52) beat Yorkshire 263 for 9 (McGrath 101, Vaughan 46) by two wickets
A muscular 77 from one-day specialist Tyron Henderson helped Middlesex to sneak from behind to beat Yorkshire with a ball to spare in Friday's thrilling Pro Arch Trophy clash in Abu Dhabi.
Henderson clubbed 77 off 41 balls with four sixes and six fours to take his side to the brink of a memorable win only to be bowled by Ajmal Shahzad with three balls remaining, leaving Alan Richardson to smear a boundary from the penultimate ball to seal the dramatic win.
The pendulum swung Yorkshire's way again when Lee Hodgson removed Dawid Malan and Gareth Berg to consecutive balls, but Henderson - signed by Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals for a whopping $650,000 - was in no mood for losing.
He appeared fortunate to survive a run-out appeal when on 50, but it was the only slice of good fortune that Henderson required as he single-handedly turned the game on its head. When he sidled out to the middle Middlesex were wobbling at 152 for 4. They had just lost Billy Godleman to a run-out for an attractive 46 and required a further 112 with 76 balls remaining - an asking rate of almost nine an over.
But Henderson muscled his second ball of the night from Deon Kruis for a straight six and in the space of nine overs batted Middlesex into the ascendency with an array of bludgeoning strokes, including a stunning, one-handed six over midwicket.
Malam, batting with a runner after suffering cramp, succumbed for 47, one of three wickets for Lee Hodgson, but there was no let-up from Henderson's pyrotechnics. Clearly shell-shocked by the barrage, Yorkshire's attack added to their own downfall by conceding 40 extras, the majority of them wides, until with one run required Henderson finally missed an expansive drive against Shahzad to lose his off stump.
He left Alan Richardson to complete the comeback win with a clipped four over midwicket, to all but secure Middlesex's place in next Wednesday's final.
Earlier a century by newly appointed skipper Anthony McGrath was the major contribution to Yorkshire's working total of 263 for 9 in the heat of the day. He followed in the footsteps of Michael Vaughan by reaching three figures after Yorkshire won the toss and chose to bat.
Unlike Wednesday's sublime pitch that Vaughan graced to reach 115, the wicket for this game lacked pace, while the well-grassed surface helped seam bowlers on both sides. The early departure of Adam Lyth (4) owed much to the pitch as Danny Evans got the ball to hold up on the surface and cause Lythe to mis-time his back-foot defensive shot and spoon a simple catch to midwicket.
Andrew Gale, having been dropped at point on 1, reached 18 before he was caught at the wicket bringing Vaughan out to centre stage once more. He and McGrath added 85 low-risk runs in 17 overs, hitting the gaps and rotating the strike, the third-wicket pair eased the Tykes back into contention until Vaughan's firm-push drive at an off-cutter from Gareth Berg grazed the edge and flew through to the keeper.
McGrath nurdled on, reaching his hundred from 107 balls with eight fours and a straight six over mid-on and into the seats six off Malan's second delivery of the day.
But McGrath heaved across the line to Evans's first ball of the next over to go without adding to his 101 and, despite a late cameo 24 from 11 balls by Ajmal Shahzad, McGrath left feeling uneasy about his side's chances.
"We are a bit rusty in certain areas, running between the wickets, maybe our fielding too and we didn't bowl well up front in the first game," said McGrath. "Rather than having a buffer of 290, I felt 260 was always going to be a score that put us under pressure. Middlesex are a very dangerous side."
Commenting on his innings, McGrath added: "I was disappointed I ran myself out here two days ago because I felt really good, so it was good to get in and spend time at the crease. I am really pleased. It was hard with the new ball because it stuck in the wicket, but batting is all about confidence. The more you can spend time in the middle, the more you can take that back into the games in England."
Mark Pennell is a freelance journalist who is covering the Pro Arch Trophy for Cricinfo