County round-up: Shahzad pyrotechnics lift Yorkshire
Ajmal Shahzad, not an immediate candidate for a Test call-up, seized the spotlight from one who is, as Yorkshire took the upper hand in what might be termed the first relegation tussle of the cricket season.
Tim Bresnan supplemented his four wickets on Monday with 41 runs as he and Gary Ballance dug Yorkshire out of trouble against Worcestershire at Scarborough, only to be upstaged by a blistering display of big-hitting from Shahzad.
The 25-year-old pace bowler, who has not played for England since the World Cup in March, and who made his one Test appearance so far in June last year, struck four sixes and seven fours in a 72-ball 70.
The Bresnan-Ballance alliance had rescued Yorkshire from 143-6 following the early loss of Andrew Gale, adding 92 for the seventh wicket in reply to Worcestershire's 168, but then Shahzad and Ryan Sidebottom combined to give their side a level of prosperity they had not expected.
By the time Shahzad was caught at long-on attempting a fifth six, off Saeed Ajmal, he and Sidebottom had compiled Yorkshire's seventh biggest last-wicket stand by putting on 109.
It gave Yorkshire a lead of 199 and a platform from which they will hope to secure a first win since they defeated Worcestershire at New Road in the opening match of the season.
Given that they began this round next to bottom of the First Division table, five points behind Worcestershire and having played a game more, a win for Yorkshire would come at a timely moment ahead of next week's Roses match at Headingley.
It became likelier still when Worcestershire lost their first four wickets for 79 before closing some 117 runs short still of requiring Yorkshire to bat again.
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