Bold Mahmood gives Lancashire the edge

Lancashire 328 & 194 Yorkshire 239 & 122-5
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Lancashire, after all, will begin the final day of a fascinating Roses match of compelling ebbs and flows as favourites to complete a victory that is likely to reduce the gap between themselves and leaders Durham in the race for the County Championship to a handful of points.

Yorkshire did not waste the heroics of Richard Pyrah and Ryan Sidebottom, building on the 154-run partnership that had dragged them back into the match by reducing Lancashire to 87 for 8 yesterday morning.

But another twist in the story – another ninth-wicket stand – gave Lancashire the edge again. Rain and bad light brought about a fragmented and late end to the third day, but the loss of five wickets for 119 as they chased a target of 284 left Yorkshire with much to do. Lancashire had been 33 for 3 overnight, a lead of 122 still giving them the edge.

Yet Yorkshire, inspired by Tim Bresnan's determination, delivered what had been required to prevent the match slipping away from them again, dominating the morning session.

Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad – and Pyrah in his primary discipline as fourth seamer – exploited their opportunity well as the pitch began to produce uneven bounce. Bresnan struck first, knocking back Steven Croft's off stump, and by the time Lancashire reached lunch, he had four for 30. Pyrah continued to have a major influence, taking a wicket with his eighth ball.

Yet again the balance swung after the eighth wicket fell. Kyle Hogg and Saj Mahmood attacked as Pyrah and Sidebottom had, putting on 80 together. Yorkshire cursed a dropped catch, put down by Bresnan of all people, at third slip, offered by Mahmood on 23. The punishment for it was four boundaries off the reel by Mahmood, who raced to 50 in just 11 more deliveries.

Had the catch been held, Lancashire would have been only 220 in front, and even though Mahmood then gave his wicket away and Hogg was run out by Bresnan, Lancashire's lead, one suspected, was probably enough.

Yorkshire set off in pursuit, reaching 80 for one in the 20th over, with Joe Root the only casualty, but then lost Anthony McGrath and Jacques Rudolph in the space of four deliveries and when, after a 50-minute interruption, Jonny Bairstow was bowled by Chapple, Yorkshire were beginning to think about survival.