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Recent Match Report – Yorkshire vs Northants Group 3 2021

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Three late wickets in the Headingley murk leave visitors dreaming of shock win

Yorkshire 206 and 43 for 3 lead Northamptonshire 234 (Zaib 55, Taylor 50) by 15 runs

Saif Zaib‘s progression from teenaged prodigy to proven county cricketer has been far from automatic, but the resolve he displayed against Yorkshire at Headingley will not only encourage Northants to believe that his breakthrough season is upon them but it might even contribute to one of the biggest shocks in the Championship season.

Northants should not be taken lightly – they were about to return to Division One before Covid-19 led to the introduction of a conference-style system – and they have an advantage with Yorkshire only 15 runs ahead and seven wickets remaining. Not for the first time this season, Yorkshire find themselves behind the game at the halfway point, but if the weather stays murky, any lead above 160 leaves them competitive, 200 gives them an even chance. The pitch is nibbling regularly and there is some swing to be had.

Zaib was the wonderkid who became the first 15-year-old cricketer to represent Northants, and won a three-year contract in the process, but seven years on that has been trimmed to a one-year extension. Averaging under 20 with the bat in all three formats, and with only 24 county wickets to his name, he is now under obvious pressure to prove his mettle.

Northants are pushing Yorkshire all the way at Headingley, taking a 28-run first innings lead, and that owed much to Zaib’s discriminating half-century, an exercise in self-denial which brought him 55 from 133 balls, and enabled him to join Tom Taylor, another sturdy half-century maker, in stemming a morning collapse.

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