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John Ward at Headingley
April 30, 2009
Worcestershire 100 for 2 (Solanki 66*) trail Yorkshire 460 for 6 dec (Rudolph 198, McGrath 120) by 360 runs
Yorkshire had two enemies to overcome on the third day of the match at Headingley, and until Worcestershire put up a dogged fight late in the day, the weather proved the more troublesome of the two. The players were on and off the field throughout the day to a mixture of drizzle and bad light, and well though the Yorkshire seamers bowled, Vikram Solanki defied them and the visitors had lost only two wickets by the close of play.
Yorkshire's plans were somewhat hindered by a touch of lunacy from their overnight pair, who neglected to play themselves in for the new day. In the second over of the day Andrew Gale startled everybody by driving a straight six off Gareth Batty, but then holed out at deep midwicket for 21 off Daryl Mitchell. Moments later Jacques Rudolph uncharacteristically threw away his chance of a double century, stumped down the leg side off Mitchell for 198. It was a fine innings lasting 335 balls and containing 14 fours and two sixes, but its untimely conclusion, less than ten minutes after play started, did mean that Yorkshire had to take a breather before resuming their quest for quick runs.
Gerard Brophy and Tim Bresnan took a few overs to settle in, with the light worsening, before starting to attack. Brophy made 16 before he tried to hit a yorker from Mitchell across the line, but then came the first of numerous breaks for bad light or rain - or both. Ajmal Shahzad hit breezily for an unbeaten 20 off 14 balls, amid another rain break, before Yorkshire declared at 460 for 6. Mitchell, whose military medium concentrated on line and length, took 4 for 49, his best career-return.
The Worcestershire innings lasted exactly eight balls, with no runs yet on the board, when the weather again closed in and an early lunch was taken. The resumption was delayed, and when the players took the field again Yorkshire struck quickly. Alex Kervezee got off the mark with a neat clip for two to long leg, but was then brilliantly caught by Joe Sayers, diving at third slip, off the dangerous Matthew Hoggard; 3 for 1.
Vikram Solanki almost fell exactly the same way first ball, but this time the ball bounced just short of the fielder. While Mitchell hung on grimly, Solanki tried to take the attack to the Yorkshire seamers, no easy task with Hoggard and Bresnan racing in with hostility, skill and purpose, and the light poor enough to bring another break in play. When he had made 6 he was dropped off a sharp chance in the slips, but continued to attack against an attacking field. He lost Mitchell, trapped leg-before to a vicious off-cutter from Shahzad for 10, at 39 for 2, and shortly afterwards play was stopped yet again.
When they returned temporarily, Solanki and his new partner Moeem Ali decided on caution. There were a lot of edges, two of them through the slips to the boundary to bring Solanki his 50 off the bowling of the unfortunate Bresnan; it took him 106 balls. Like the Yorkshiremen, though, the Worcestershire batsmen were handicapped by a slow outfield. After 5.30pm the light improved to be the best of the day and the batsmen gained in confidence, although the Yorkshire seamers continued to do a fine job without any luck. Shahzad in particular bowled some testing deliveries and the batsmen did very well to survive.
The 100 came up for Worcestershire in the 46th over, but shortly afterwards the weather rudely intervened for the eighth and final time during the day. Yorkshire face the unlikely prospect of having to take 18 Worcestershire wickets on the final day to win the match outright, in whatever time the weather allows them.
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