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Jon Culley at Aigburth
May 21, 2011
Lancashire 329 and 121 for 4 beat Yorkshire 141 and 308 by six wickets
Lancashire pulled off one of the more sensational victories in Roses history to climb back to the top of the County Championship after a spectacular finale to a gripping final day.
Still 57 behind overnight, Yorkshire's aim had been to bat throughout the final day and, in spite of some high-calibre bowling from veteran spinner Gary Keedy, who took six wickets for his best figures in matches between these counties, must have thought they had done enough to escape with a draw after tailenders Steve Patterson and Oliver Hannon-Dalby had defied Lancashire's attempts to claim the final wicket for almost an hour.
When it came, only 15 overs remained for Lancashire to chase 121 to win but thanks to the big hitting of Steven Croft and Farveez Maharoof - and equally to the disciplines learned from Twenty20 cricket - they pulled it off with four balls to spare.
It meant that, in the end, a vastly improved batting display from Yorkshire was in vain. Joe Sayers defied the pain of a foot injury and an intense duel with England's Jimmy Anderson to bat for almost four hours for his 75 and there were half-centuries from skipper Andrew Gale, Gary Ballance and Adil Rashid as Yorkshire built up a lead they believed would be enough to insure them against defeat.
But Lancashire were just as determined not to waste the opportunity set up by Keedy, whose 6 for 133 included three wickets in the space of seven balls to reduce Yorkshire to 301 for 9.
With the quick scoring instincts acquired in Twenty20 cricket, Lancashire saw the target as distinctly within their compass and were always close to the scoring rate required, even though they did not find the boundary rope until the fifth of the 15 overs.
Yorkshire, of course, were not handicapped by fielding restrictions but could not bowl with enough control to pin Lancashire down and a small number of expensive overs was all that was needed to take the match away from them.
Adil Rashid took two wickets in two balls in his first over but conceded sixes to Croft and Gareth Cross in his next. Ryan Sidebottom conceded 12 in one over, including five wides, and was hit for straight sixes by Croft and Maharoof, who then attacked Rashid with similar gusto, smashing a powerful six over the long on boundary before running two off the next attempted maximum to win the match and take Lancashire five points ahead of Durham and Warwickshire, with a game in hand.
It had all seemed unlikely during mid-afternoon, when Yorkshire looked to be achieving their aim of building up a lead and eating up time. Sayers and Gale put on 115 for the third wicket, the former engaging in a titanic struggle with Anderson peppered with verbal exchanges. The England bowler still seemed to be fuming over what he thought was an injustice the evening before, when he felt he had Sayers out for 1, caught off the glove.
Gale appeared to chip in with his opinion too at times and Anderson gave him something off a send-off when he took a slip catch off Keedy to break the partnership when the left-armer found the edge. Sayers, who had been the victim off a brilliant catch by Croft in the first innings, was unlucky again, his sweep at Keedy hitting Mark Chilton at short leg and looping up for Paul Horton to catch the ball at leg slip.
With Sayers gone, Yorkshire supporters probably feared the worst but the defiant tone set by the opener, who batted for almost four hours for his 75 despite the pain of a foot injury suffered on Friday, was picked up by Ballance and then Rashid.
But when Rashid rather recklessly went down the pitch to Croft, bowling off breaks, he lost his wicket to a straightforward stumping by Gareth Cross and the innings began suddenly to unravel. Keedy, finding prodigious turn from the River End, had Simon Guy caught at slip and then bowled Ballance with a ball that the left-hander left alone only to turn so far it took his leg stump.
Sidebottom was undone by a similar delivery and when Moin Ashraf was leg before, Keedy had taken three wickets in the space of seven balls and Yorkshire were 301 for 9, which gave them a lead of only 113 with at least 27.5 overs left.
Yet it took the hosts 14.2 overs to claim the final wicket, courtesy of Steve Patterson and Oliver Hannon-Dalby, whose defiance meant that by the time Lancashire openers, Horton and Stephen Moore, were able to begin the chase for victory, it seemed there might not be time enough.
In the event, the target was never less than accessible.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.