Lancashire v Yorkshire, Headingley, 3rd day July 22, 2011

Lancashire edge ahead in see-sawing contest

Jon Culley at Headingley

Yorkshire 239 and 136 for 6 v Lancashire 328 and 194

After Yorkshire's wonderful fightback on day three, this fascinating, absorbing Roses match has produced more ebbs and flows, another unlikely recovery and enough Yorkshire wickets falling in a fragmented final session for Lancashire to have the scent of victory.

Yorkshire may still win, in theory. After all, they have Adil Rashid and Rich Pyrah, hero of their first innings, still to come. But their target of 148 more runs is probably a less realistic proposition than Lancashire's requirement of four wickets.

Yorkshire's batting has been brittle at times this season and a target of 284 always represented a test on a wearing pitch, with variable bounce a factor in several third-day dismissals. Yet they began well, reaching 80 for 1 in the 20th over, with Joe Root the only casualty, edging a Glen Chapple outswinger into the hands of Paul Horton at first slip.

But Lancashire took the upper hand after two wickets fell in the space of four deliveries. Anthony McGrath, who has had a troubled season bedevilled by problems with foot movement - blamed on a back injury - looked to be regaining some semblance of form. He was cut short, however, when Kyle Hogg had him leg before for the ninth time in 14 Championship innings this season, although umpire Neil Mallender's verdict, reached after lengthy consideration, clearly disappointed him.

Then Jacques Rudolph, shaping ominously for the kind of innings Yorkshire had been willing him to deliver on his return to the county, fell without argument, leg before to a fine, full ball from Saj Mahmood, capping an impressive day for the former England bowler.

As dark clouds slipped across from behind the new pavilion, it left Yorkshire willing the weather to close in, at least to give them a chance to regroup and re-assess. Drizzly rain fell for a while but with 42 overs scheduled in the final session there were too many left for the umpires to make hasty conclusions. Indeed, when the clouds thinned and the players re-emerged, there was scope for another hour.

It was an hour Yorkshire could have done without. Jonny Bairstow, who had started confidently before the interruption, was bowled by Chapple, in an excellent spell from the pavilion end, before Gary Keedy was introduced at the football stand end and made an impact in his first over as Gary Ballance bagged a pair in the match by nudging a catch to Tom Smith at silly point.

That left Yorkshire 119 for 5, with only survival a realistic target. When Chapple claimed the second success of his spell, Tim Bresnan edging to Smith at second slip, the odds against that looked long, even though Andrew Gale remains unbeaten on 28 overnight after a gutsy effort.

For the home supporters who had remained on the ground, it was a disappointing end to a day that had started with Yorkshire building superbly on the heroic deeds of Thursday to ensure that the magnificent, odds-defying partnership between Pyrah and Ryan Sidebottom had more than merely fleeting significance.

Even though Lancashire had been 33 for 3 overnight, a lead of 122 still gave them the edge. A telling first session from the Yorkshire attack was still the minimum requirement if the match was not to slip away from them again.

Inspired by Bresnan's determination to make his return from Test duty count, they duly delivered, dominating the morning to the extent that the 63 runs that Lancashire added before lunch were gained at a cost of five wickets, leaving them wobbling on 96 for 8 at lunch, their advantage a far-from-comfortable 185.

Bresnan, whose arrival from Lord's on Thursday ended Iain Wardlaw's participation in his debut first-class match, joined Ajmal Shahzad in giving away nothing in the opening overs. And only 17 had been added in a little over nine overs when Bresnan struck the first blow of the day for Yorkshire, knocking back Steven Croft's off stump. It was a delivery that skidded through, suggesting that uneven bounce might become a factor.

Not as much of a factor as Pyrah, it seemed, when Thursday's centurion took over from Shahzad at the football stand end and claimed a wicket with his eighth ball, trapping Mark Chilton in front. With no further addition, Lancashire were 50 for 5, only 139 in front.

Gareth Cross had an escape on 10 when Rudolph spilled a sharp chance at first slip off Sidebottom but it was not long before another delivery shot through at ankle height, beating Smith's defensive bat and winning another leg before decision.

Chapple could have gone first ball, swatting away a Sidebottom bouncer with no control, but it was not long anyway before he had gone too, wafting at a ball from Pyrah and giving Bairstow a catch. Next, with Bresnan back on at the pavilion end, Cross went back to a fullish delivery but, like Croft and Smith before him, was deceived by the pitch. Now Lancashire were 87 for 8, their advantage 176, and Bresnan was celebrating a fourth wicket.

Again, though, the match produced a ninth-wicket partnership that changed the picture. Mahmood and Kyle Hogg, drawing on what had worked for Pyrah and Sidebottom in their record stand, decided that there was no point in being tentative.

Neither is inclined to prod about anyway, so this came as no real surprise. Bresnan took a hit or two for his trouble, but it was his failure to cling on to a routine catch at third slip that turned out to be his most expensive contribution to a stand of 80 between the pair.

It was offered by Mahmood, on 23 and with the lead standing at 220. Sidebottom threw his head back in exasperation, as he does in such moments, although he was a good deal more cross when Mahmood, taking full advantage of his good fortune, immediately hit four boundaries in a row, including that insult among insults, a Chinese cut.

Indeed, Mahmood managed to purloin 27 runs from 11 balls before an ugly swipe at a ball from Rashid saw him bowled, leaving the field looking as annoyed as Sidebottom had moments earlier.

They seemed like important runs, giving Mahmood his first half-century of the season, a feat quickly matched by Hogg. Both men had chalked up eight boundaries, punishing anything short or offline with a frequency that reminded the Yorkshire bowlers to their cost that this is a pitch that demands accuracy once the shine has gone off the ball.

Hogg was run out after Keedy called him for a chancy single, Bresnan's throw from short extra catching him out of his ground, but Lancashire's lead, one suspected, was probably enough.