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Yorkshire squeeze Roses win as Carver clings on

Yorkshire 141 for 7 (Buck 3-25) beat Lancashire 136 (Livingstone 36, Patterson 3-23) by five runs
Scorecard

There was a brief cheer for Wales' quarter-final victory at the European Championships, but that could wait for the late-night TV highlights. It would take something particularly momentous to deflect a capacity crowd at Headingley from their Roses obsession with the last over about to begin and a thrilling game in the balance. In these parts, the Roses T20 has become cricket's No. 1 night of the summer.

As it turned out, another wonderful Twenty20 encounter between the old rivals fell to Yorkshire by five runs with two balls remaining. Somehow a crotchety night delivered a compelling contest, a match played out before a 17,000 crowd that cared passionately about the result. Caring who wins and loses, and making a hell of a noise about it, is a lesson that all Twenty20 crowds in England must embrace. Too many crowds are too quiet by half.

Lancashire's last-wicket pair needed 12 off the final over. Stephen Parry hit a leg-glance off Steven Patterson for four but he edged the next ball to wicketkeeper Andy Hodd as Yorkshire clung on. Time to get out the mobile phones and check out Wales.

The greatest drama of all was reserved for the 11th over of Lancashire's innings. Chasing 142 in 18 overs on a sticky surface, they were up against it with 74 needed from eight overs, only for the left-arm spinner Karl Carver to bowl three full-tosses in a row, all of which Liam Livingstone deposited over the leg-side for six.

His captain, Alex Lees, volunteered a word. "For God's sake, land it on the cut bit," would have sufficed. Carver got a yorker in with his fourth ball and, although in truth his final two deliveries were nothing special, Livingstone and Steven Croft in turn perished to smart catches at deep midwicket and deep square leg respectively. Suddenly, Lancashire were 88 for 5. With the crowd baying its appreciation, Carver probably learned as much about himself in three minutes as he has all season.

More twists threatened. A particularly malevolent cloud did its worst, the rain briefly lashed down, but the umpires stayed on. Lancashire, aware of the D/L par score shining from the scoreboard sought to get ahead of the rate, and got level for one ball, but then Luke Procter was caught tight at to the line at midwicket by Carver.

The catching from both sides was excellent all night: standards to more than match any T20 league in the world. Adam Lyth was outstanding for the White Rose, the best a brilliant diving effort at deep backward square to silence Jordan Clark; Clark responded in kind in the field for the Red.

A hat-trick of Championships remains within Yorkshire's capabilities, but this win would have brought relief because T20 refuses to come to them easily. They escaped the foot of the table, whereas Lancashire, with realistic hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals, failed to break into the top four. They not only had to fight Lancashire, it seemed they had to fight themselves.

Lancashire's young attack, held together by Parry's left-arm spin, responded to all that Yorkshire could offer, intelligently cut its pace and ran its variations without a moment's hesitation. Yorkshire looked as if they yearned for urgency and innovation, but had not quite come to terms with it.

Their season's statistics did not inspire confidence. Midway through the 14-game programme, only Lees had managed 100 runs, Yorkshire's calculation that the appointment of a young captain would bring a change of tone bringing no miracles. Lyth had at least forced his way into an eleven that should have always found a home for him, even though a career average of 18 over 65 matches is nothing to shout about.

Yorkshire have been bereft in Powerplays all season, their record among the worst in the country, but 40 for 2 off five overs was a sound enough start. Lyth set off like a man possessed, Nathan Buck and Clark cut for four then leathered over the leg-side for six. But when he was snuffed out for 23 he was one of four Yorkshire batsmen to be dismissed in the 20s. Parry outwitted Kane Williamson to bowl him, Gary Ballance fell to a preconceived leg-side flick.

But Lancashire found conditions just as challenging as Steven Patterson made an impact at both ends of the innings.

One of the delights of the night from a Yorkshire perspective was the display of Azeem Rafiq. A promising first phase at Yorkshire was ended by injury as his action fell apart and his attitude did pretty much the same. His four-over spell of 1 for 20 was another impressive claim for a full contract. His wicket, delivered with the coolest of attitudes, beat Steven Croft as it flopped towards him at 46mph. Village-pace spin, beautifully delivered.

It's been a tough couple of years but I can't hide from that," Rafiq said. "I'm just trying to enjoy each day and see where it goes." Steve Oldham, a former long-serving Yorkshire coach, has nurtured him, latterly, at Sheffield United. Hurt by his sacking, and viewed - reluctantly - by those who removed him as no longer uplifting enough, Oldham's love for the game has remained unshaken and has delivered Rafiq back to Yorkshire, healed and ready once more for the fray.