Lancashire v Yorkshire, Old Trafford, 3rd day June 30, 2010

McGrath steadies Yorkshire towards a draw

Jon Culley at Old Trafford

Yorkshire 447 and 111 for 3 v Lancashire 358
Scorecard

Yorkshire take a lead of exactly 200 into the final day here, three wickets down and with the prospect of a decent finish, which makes the forecast for rain sweeping in from the west in the early hours all the more regrettable.

Just as the team from the eastern side of the Pennines has the potential to set up a tempting run chase, the home team will feel a decent morning with the ball could leave them to dictate their own destiny. Both hoped for a change in wind direction overnight.

Yorkshire will edge in front at the top of the First Division table with a draw but given that a win for Lancashire would see the Red Rose leapfrog both Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire into first place, stand-in Yorkshire captain Jacques Rudolph will be wary of taking a gamble, particularly after what happened at Taunton in May.

There he challenged Somerset to score 362 from 68 overs and wound-up red-faced as Marcus Trescothick's team knocked them off with a couple of overs to spare. It is Yorkshire's only defeat so far.

In any event, Lancashire bowled well enough here on day three to feel they might yet be able to set their own target. Without Joe Sayers and Andrew Gale, this Yorkshire line-up lacks depth in the batting and the loss of Rudolph and Adam Lyth for a combined 33 was not the start they needed if they were to establish a commanding lead. Anthony McGrath is unbeaten on 50 overnight, but should he go early Lancashire will have their tails up.

They will be eager to see Daren Powell continue his form of the third day, the West Indian having opened with a hostile, penetrating spell at the Statham End that soon struck a blow for Lancashire as Rudolph nicked a catch to wicketkeeper Luke Sutton to perish for four.

Powell was unlucky not to dismiss Lyth himself, beating the left-hander twice in one over and seeing Simon Kerrigan miss a difficult chance at mid-on when the batsman was on 19. Lyth soon went for 29. He had never looked at ease and when he pulled a ball from Kyle Hogg to Stephen Moore at deep square leg he cursed his luck. He is still 18 runs away from reaching 1,000 first-class runs for the season, a milestone he once looked capable of hitting before the end of May.

He should still be first in the country to get there. Nearest challenger Mark Ramprakash does not play another first-class match until 20 July. Lyth, on the other hand, has another opportunity when Yorkshire take on Warwickshire next week.

Kerrigan, the 21-year-old left-arm spinner who looks a decent cricketer in the making, deservedly had some success when Jonathan Bairstow, aiming for mid-wicket, sliced horribly to backward point. There could have been another setback for Yorkshire in the last over, moreover, when Tom Smith dropped Gerard Brophy at mid-wicket off Steven Croft.

Earlier, Lancashire had fought back well when appearing odds-on to miss the follow-on target of 298. The home side had begun the day at 187 for 6 but while there was a wicket each for pace bowler Tino Best and off-spinner Azeem Rafiq in the morning session, Sutton and Kyle Hogg combined to drag the home side out of trouble.

They threatened to topple the county record for the ninth wicket, which has stood at 142 since 1907. In the end, that prospect disappeared when Hogg, who must have fancied he could complete a maiden first-class century, had a rush of blood and hit straight to cover off Adil Rashid, taken low down by Richard Pyrah.

Rashid's leg-spin was not such a consistent threat as it had been on Tuesday but Hogg's concentration, in the face of Rashid and Rafiq in tandem, was admirable nonetheless. He also hit 11 boundaries. Best, who began the day with a beamer to Sutton, tended to be wayward but held a return catch when Tom Smith miscued a drive. Rafiq, who was as impressive as the more experienced Rashid, had Glen Chapple caught at a deep mid-on as the Lancashire tried to hit over the top, the wicket giving the 19-year-old off-spinner the best figures - 4 for 92 - of his career so far. Rashid, watched by England selector James Whitaker, took a five-wicket haul for the fourth time in a Roses fixture.

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