A record opening stand of 122 between skipper Andrew Gale and Phil Jaques put Yorkshire on track for a 22-run victory over reigning champions Leicestershire in their Friends Life t20 encounter at Headingley yesterday.
The fine start set Yorkshire up for a total of 170 for four after winning the toss and the visitors were dismissed for 148 in reply, Australian paceman Mitchell Starc claiming the last three wickets in the final over. Gale led the way this time with a belligerent 70 off only 42 balls with six fours and three sixes while fellow left-hander Jaques contributed 48 from 41 deliveries with five fours and a six.
At Taunton, Jos Buttler's unbeaten 58 saw Somerset to a thrilling five-wicket win over Northamptonshire with one ball to spare. Buttler, overlooked for England's latest one-day international squad, produced two scooped boundaries off the last two balls of the penultimate over to reach a brilliant half-century off 36 balls.
Northants had posted 137 for five, with Cameron White hitting 47 not out and David Willey an unbeaten 30; George Dockrell was the pick of the Somerset bowlers with two for 17. The visitors defended their total tenaciously, with James Middlebrook and Jack Brooks taking two wickets each but they were unable to contain the livewire Buttler.
The Kent Spitfires got off the mark with a convincing eight-wicket victory over Surrey at Beckenham. Led by Rob Key, who hit an unbeaten 51, and Darren Stevens, whose 43 not out came off 25 balls and included four sixes, the hosts cantered home with 22 deliveries to spare after Surrey could only muster 116 for seven in their 20 overs.
Chris Liddle bowled a sensational penultimate over to help Sussex clinch an 11-run victory over Middlesex at Lord's. Liddle took three wickets in four balls to finish with career-best figures of five for 17 and wreck Middlesex's hopes of chasing down Sussex's 143 for eight.
Half-centuries by Moeen Ali and Phil Hughes helped Worcestershire get their campaign under way in a comfortable 47-run victory over Gloucestershire at New Road.