Yorkshire find their path to victory blocked by Croft

Yorkshire 215-7 dec Lancashire 192-7 <i>(Match drawn)</i>
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The Independent Online

Steven Croft defied Yorkshire with an unbeaten 85 in a wonderfully tense finish to the Roses match, after which Yorkshire are top of the First Division table but not by the clear margin they had hoped for. Croft, Glen Chapple and then Kyle Hogg were charged with steering a path to survival for Lancashire after the final hour began with Yorkshire needing four more wickets. They did so with six or seven close fielders for company at all times, in addition to wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy, as spinners Adil Rashid and Azeem Rafiq sought a way through.

In the end Chapple was the only casualty as Lancashire, helped by a 35-minute rain interruption soon after tea, secured a draw that keeps them in touch in the race for the Championship. They move into third place, eight points behind Yorkshire, who are a point ahead of Nottinghamshire.

Yorkshire's lunchtime declaration at 215-7 gave Lancashire a target of 305 but the time element seemed to favour the batting side if survival became the objective. Yorkshire had lost their key man when Anthony McGrath was leg before to left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan and only Rashid succeeded in pushing along the score without mishap.

Any hope Lancashire entertained of scoring the runs effectively disappeared when an otherwise erratic opening spell by Tino Best accounted for Stephen Moore, bowled by a terrific yorker, Simon Katich, who was caught at third slip, and Paul Horton, who went leg before.

Steve Patterson had Mark Chilton lbw before the stoppage for rain. Stand-in captain Jacques Rudolph turned to the less experienced Rafiq, the off-spinner, first but it was Rashid who made the breakthrough, dismissing Tom Smith, who was well taken by Brophy, and Luke Sutton, caught off the bat at short leg, in the space of three balls.

That set up a tense last hour that stretched to almost 23 overs but though a fine, running catch at mid-on by Best accounted for Chapple, Croft played a chanceless knock spanning three hours, ably assisted by Hogg, who batted back 33 balls before he played a scoring shot. At least the outcome ended a bizarre run for Rudolph as stand-in captain which had, until yesterday, comprised seven matches and seven defeats.

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