It was deju vu on Day Three at Headingley, with dropped catches and a marvellous century frustrating the fielding side – only this time it was Kent on the wrong end of proceedings.
Johnny Bairstow, put down by Ben Harmison on 24, struck a maiden first class ton at home, to help Yorkshire fight back from a precarious morning stumble.
Kent are still the only side capable of winning the game, Mark Davies the only bowler to threaten with any sustained pressure and they’ll need him to fire at his best to make the hosts follow on and possibly crumble on a final day wicket.
Waking up this morning, Kent’s new look attack would have been licking their lips, rubbing their hands and thanking their lucky stars all at once. Light drizzle in the air, heavy cloud cover and a wicket two days old.
Robbed of a dart in the final session yesterday, Mark Davies was immediately rewarded with two wickets in two balls, the first a smart head-high catch by Adam Riley at third slip, the second a beaut of a inswinger to trap former England man Anthony McGrath in front of the timbers.
Root and Gale looked untroubled thereafter until he was given out glancing one down the legside off Matt Coles. Geraint Jones to a smart diving two handed catch and the umpire raised his finger, much to the bemusement of the, who shook his head in disbelief initially before kicking the outfield in his way.
Gale glided almost unnoticed onto 44 before light drizzle brought a premature end to a topsy turvy morning session.
DAY THREE: LUNCH – Yorks 103-3 (Gale 44*, Bairstow 5*)
The dreaded nelson struck for Yorkshire when the skipper became Davies’ third victim of the innings, again trapped lbw for 44, as the former Durham paceman’s strength against the left handers reaped its rewards.
Bairstow and Balance then set about rebuilding the Yorkshire innings on a true wicket but Bairstow nearly came unstuck when the unflappable Davies induced a regulation edge from the 22-year-old England batsman but Ben Harmison spilled the regulation chance diving to his left at 2nd slip.
From there, the pair consolidated marvellously, adding a vital 115 for the fifth wicket before Adam Riley, whose spin wasn’t introduced until the 53rd over and was carted about at a run-a-ball, managed to breach the attack of Ballance. His stride, much akin to Michael Powell’s in Kent’s first innings, was not enough to save him.
The battering of the Loughborough MCCU captain continued, Bairstow racing to three figures thanks to a monumental blow over deep mid wicket, crashing into the East Stand windows, followed by a simple dab into square leg. Bairstow’s first century at Headingley was greeted by rapturous applause from the wrapped up spectators.
Rashid joined in the spanking, dispatching Riley around the park before tea as Yorkshire regained control of a match that could easily have spiralled out of their control, even if a victory was never a possibility thanks to Kent’s record total.
DAY THREE: TEA – Yorkshire (Bairstow 101*, Rashid 12*)
Brendan Nash was given his first trundle in county cricket in the evening session, combining with Darren Stevens to soak up the overs before the new ball.
Bairstow’s dutiful stay at the crease ended when he nicked Darren Stevens to Jones just a couple of overs before the new ball for 107.
With the score on 290-6, Yorkshire could be forgiven for fearing an implosion against a Shreck/Davies new ball combo but Shazad and Rashid skilfully negotiated an awkward overs, although Rashid was let off having been spilled by Jones on 23, an over prior to Bairstow’s dismissal.
With 18 overs remaining in the day, Headingley caved in to the inevitable Leeds gloom and the umpires eventually called it a day at 17:50, with Rashid 40 not out, adding an annoying 26 with Shazad for the seventh wicket.
Kent only need twelve wickets on the final day to force an unlikely victory with Pyrah ruled out with a broken hand. Early scalps and a pressurised follow on could provide an enthralling final day… weather permitting.
DAY THREE: STUMPS – Yorkshire 316-6 (Rashid 40*, Shazad 17*)
Saturday, 7th April 2012