Rafiq shines as Tykes scent unlikely victory

Yorkshire 111-3 Lancashire 358
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The Independent Online

The Roses rivals were hoping a forecast for rain today proves inaccurate as Yorkshire's desire to seal the win that would take them clear of Nottinghamshire at the top of the First Division table left them wondering how bold they might be in offering Lancashire a last-day carrot.

Three down for 111 at the close, the team from east of the Pennines lead by exactly 200. A productive morning could leave acting captain Jacques Rudolph with a dilemma that will not be eased by the knowledge that he set Somerset a target at Taunton last month that backfired, costing Yorkshire their only defeat so far.

He will have in mind, too, that Lancashire began this round only six points behind Yorkshire with a match in hand. Avoiding defeat may therefore be a more comfortable option than risking defeat.

In any event, Lancashire have bowled well enough that they might yet dictate matters themselves. Without Joe Sayers and Andrew Gale, Yorkshire are short of batting and should they quickly see off Anthony McGrath, unbeaten on 50 overnight, Lancashire will have their tails up.

Daren Powell, opening with a terrific, hostile spell at the Statham End, struck an early blow for Lancashire when Rudolph nicked a catch to the wicketkeeper Luke Sutton and was unlucky not to dismiss Adam Lyth, beating the left-hander twice in one over after Simon Kerrigan had missed a difficult chance at mid-on when the Yorkshire batsman was on 19.

Lyth never looked settled and had added only 10 more runs when he was caught by Stephen Moore in a pull shot off Kyle Hogg, leaving him still 18 runs away from his 1,000 first-class runs for the season. He should still be first in the country to reach the milestone, with nearest challenger Mark Ramprakash not scheduled to play again until 20 July. Yorkshire are in action again, against Warwickshire, next week.

Lancashire had fought back well earlier after 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, Luke Sutton and Kyle Hogg combined to drag the home side out of trouble in a ninth-wicket stand of 121 that ended when No 10 batsman Hogg, with a whiff of a maiden first-class century, hit straight to cover off Adil Rashid.

Rashid's leg-spin did not present a threat quite as consistently as it had on Tuesday but Hogg's concentration, in the face of the two slow bowlers in tandem, was admirable nonetheless.

Best was generally 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 deep mid-on as the Lancashire captain tried to hit over the top, the wicket giving the 19-year-old the best figures – 4 for 92 – of his fledgling career.

Rashid, seeking to reclaim his England place, finished with a five-wicket haul for the fourth time in a Roses fixture.

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