A career-best 90 from Leicestershire opener Angus Robson was not enough to deny Yorkshire a third straight win in the Royal London One-Day Cup, which sees the hosts almost certainly through to the knockouts, and the visitors almost certainly unable to reach the last eight and still searching for their first win.
Yorkshire were circumspect against some highly competent new-ball bowling, as Sheikh and McKay extracted early swing in the morning. Bowlers tire and need to be changed, though, and Hodd and Lees warmed to their task after Leicestershire failed to take an early wicket.
Two key pieces of fielding within the space of an over followed Lees and Hodd’s confident start: first, Hodd flicked the ball to Ned Eckersley at midwicket, and called through for a run that was never there. A direct hit at the non-striker’s end, and he was gone. Moments later, Glenn Maxwell smashed Sayer to Michael Burgess at mid-off, who could only deflect the ball on its ponderous course to the ropes.
He took a liking to the off spin of Rob Sayer, and caused a short delay by depositing him six rows back into the empty Community Stand, where two fielders spent several minutes searching for the ball. The attraction was to prove fatal, however, when he holed out a few overs later off the same bowler to Aadil Ali at long-on for 28.
Lees and Rhodes rotated the strike in the middle overs to allow the young all-rounder time to get his eye in, busily working twos wherever possible. The partnership was broken when Rob Taylor made a double-strike in the 36th over. He bowled Lees for a 110-ball 75, and two balls later the in-form Jack Leaning popped a leading edge to Angus Robson, who settled under an easy catch.
Rhodes did not manage to reach 50, as he missed a flick into the leg side and was bowled by Raine for 46. England squad member Adil Rashid was caught at mid on for a stylish 20, and Tim Bresnan holed out for 23 after a handful of lusty blows and an early life from a Clint McKay drop at mid off.
The final over of Yorkshire’s innings included a special shot from Steven Patterson that deserves a special mention. Faced with Clint McKay, and not blessed with the power of Bresnan or the timing of Rashid, he stepped outside off and executed an outrageous paddle-sweep that went for four behind square leg. He smashed another four before being bowled off the last ball of the innings, looking to hit Raine onto Dickie Bird’s new balcony.
It was Matthew Fisher who claimed the first Leicestershire wicket to fall, bowling captain Mark Cosgrove for 23 in the last over of the powerplay. Dismissing Antipodean batsmen is becoming a happy habit for the 17-year-old seamer, who bowled Brendon McCullum in the T20 Blast.
Angus Robson was joined by Ned Eckersley and they began the recovery process, but Pyrah and Fisher bowled with control and discipline to push the required run rate above six. Glenn Maxwell breached Eckersley’s defences to bring Leicester-born teenager Aadil Ali to the crease.
Ali, who hit 84 off 86 balls in Leicestershire’s narrow defeat to Gloucestershire on Friday, began his innings with the finest of third-man dabs for fours. Robson reached his 71-ball 50 with a single off Glenn Maxwell, and then Ali drove the Australian all-rounder down the ground for a superlative boundary.
The required rate was high but under control when Waite was taken out of the attack. Ali and Robson struggled, however, to maintain their momentum against a stronger pair of bowlers, the metronomic Steven Patterson and an Adil Rashid growing in confidence after a handful of poor balls that the batsmen failed to put away in his early overs.
That partnership was broken fittingly when Patterson caught a top-edge from Ali off Rashid. Angus Robson had outplayed his teammates, but eventually succumbed to the scoreboard pressure, chipping Will Rhodes to Alex Lees for 90.
After Niall O’Brien was dismissed for two, Ben Raine unleashed some vicious shots including a big six off Will Rhodes. And yet, like the meteorological phenomenon that shares his name he was ultimately unable to affect the course of the game. After launching Tim Bresnan for six more over long on, he drove straight to Alex Lees at short cover. Matthew Fisher returned at the death to dismiss Burgess and McKay to claim career-best one-day figures of 3-32.
For Yorkshire, the push for a home quarter-final continues against Somerset at Scarborough on Wednesday. In this era of franchise Twenty20 talk and speculation about reducing the number of counties, much about Leicestershire’s future is uncertain; what is almost certain now is that they will not be lifting the One-Day Cup in 2015.