Adam Lyth struck a remarkable 161, the third highest individual score in T20 history, as Yorkshire posted the largest score in this country, 260-4, but they will still require favours from elsewhere to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Lyth hit 20 boundaries and seven sixes in his record-breaking 73-ball innings, eclipsing Brendon McCullum’s 158 as the Blast’s highest and at one point was on course to overhaul Chris Gayle’s 175, as Yorkshire eyed up the world record total of 263.
That mark is shared by the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Australia, but Lyth holed out with four balls remaining to leave the Vikings just short. While world domination wasn’t quite achieved, the innings smashed all domestic records.
Northants initially made a decent attempt to chase the mammoth total, reaching 103-2 from eight overs, but the spin of Azeem Rafiq tore through the Steelbacks, taking 5-18 as the visitors went down swinging. They were bowled out for 136 in the 15th over, a margin that is the third heaviest by runs in domestic T20.
Despite a wonderful performance, a sixth home win at Headingley from seven Blast games this year to complete their campaign, Yorkshire will be watching tomorrow’s last round of games hoping for a favour from elsewhere.
With the Vikings having completed their 14 fixtures, they need two of Birmingham, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northants to lose tomorrow night to make the top four, however such a crushing victory ensured their net run-rate soared in the event of any tie in points.
Lyth shared partnerships of 127 and 124 with Tom Kohler-Cadmore and David Willey respectively, and praised their support in allowing him to play an innings that even took him by surprise.
“In the powerplay we got off to a good start and from the midway through the powerplay I thought it was going to be my day and it was,” he said.
“But the way Tommy played and Dave came in and cleared the ropes, made my job a lot easier.
“Was then over to the bowlers and they did a fantastic job to wrap it up.
“It was a fantastic pitch, obviously first six you have to make use of them and we did that. Our [top 3] job is to take the attack to the bowlers and we’ve done that. Hopefully we qualify and can continue that.
“I never thought I’d make 160, maybe thought I’d make a hundred, obviously you need a lot of luck and thankfully I had a bit tonight and it was my night.”
The tone of the night was set from the sixth ball of the evening, which Lyth deposited over the midwicket boundary and Northants night was also set on the wrong path as Richard Gleeson’s opening over contained two no balls and went for 20.
From almost that point onwards there was no stopping Yorkshire, and Lyth, with the left hander dominating the powerplay, clearing the ropes two further times as well as hitting seven fours in reaching 50 inside five overs.
He scored 63 alone in the powerplay as the hosts reached 80-0 and Kohler-Cadmore, who had played a watching role, took over by clubbing four huge sixes of his own.
With spinners Graeme White and Seekkuge Prasanna injured, Northants have lacked penetration and control in the middle overs and whoever Alex Wakely seemed to turn to went the distance.
The opening stand was eventually broken in the 10th over as Kohler-Cadmore slapped Rob Keogh to cover, but there was no let up for the Steelbacks in the form of their former teammate Willey.
Two overs went by without a boundary, as Lyth eased his way through the 90s to go to a maiden century in the shortest form of the game and with six overs still remaining was in no mood to let up.
From 158-1 after 13 overs, 91 runs would come in the next five overs of complete carnage from the bats of Lyth and Willey, the latter pulling a pair of huge leg side sixes as the boundaries kept flowing at a relentless rate. The contrasting fortunes were summed up when Duckett dropped Lyth at long-on, the ball going for six in the process.
Lyth needed only 16 balls to go from 100 to 150, pulling his seventh and final six off Ben Sanderson’s next ball, the former Yorkshire seamer going for an eye-watering 77 from his four overs, whilst Gleeson conceded 66 in his allocation.
Both world records appeared in the Vikings grasp, but Kleinveldt and Azharullah at least spared the Steelbacks that ignominy as, remarkably given the score, the final two overs only cost 11, as Willey hold out, Tim Bresnan was lbw first ball before Lyth picked out long-on in the final over.
Chasing 13 an over from the start, there was only one approach and it was one that initially came good for Northants as Yorkshire’s seamers found life just as hard going as the Steelbacks’ had.
Six boundaries came off the first nine balls of the reply before Rossington and Levi clubbed huge sixes, 50 coming up in only 3.3 overs as Steven Patterson joined Bresnan in conceding 20. Northants had 66-0 from four.
However the difference would prove to be the spinners, while Northants had only the part time of Keogh and Cobb to call upon, Gary Ballance, in his first game since injury, had Rafiq and Adil Rashid and it was the former that made the difference.
Rossington was bowled in his first over and whilst Levi clubbed Bresnan for another six, the required rate never dropped below 12. As Northants attempted to keep going hard at Rafiq, they soon fell like dominoes.
Josh Cobb was stumped in Rafiq’s second over, the off-spinner taking at least one wicket in every over and while Levi hit sixes three and four after passing 50 in 27 balls, the final one clubbing Rafiq over midwicket, only to pick out long-on from the next ball.
Ben Duckett played on attempting to reverse sweep Rashid from the very next delivery and that would be that for the Steelbacks hopes, who’d go on to lose four wickets in ten balls as Rafiq removed Wakely and Steven Crook to take five wickets for the first time in T20, finishing with 5-19.
The rest was simply a formality as Yorkshire ended their campaign on a high, but despite their impressive Headingley record, failings on the road mean they face a nervous wait, to the frustration of captain Ballance.
“The way Adam batted was one of the finest knocks I’ve seen and got us to a score we would have had to bowl badly and them batted well to lose, so great game to come back to,” Ballance said.
“We’ve got to 200 a couple of times this year, but to get to 260, to have someone like Lythy who can carry on, not just get a 100 but get 160 is unbelievable.
“We’ve got a great run-rate but it’s a bit frustrating we’ve got to rely on other teams, but that’s the way it is, hopefully we can sneak through and get a quarter final as anything can happen from there.”