Yorkshire send clear message of title intentions

Warwickshire 253 & 371 Yorkshire 425 & 200-4 <i>(Yorkshire win by six wickets)</i>
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The Independent Online

Yorkshire stretched their First Division lead to 21 points after meeting the challenge of scoring 200 runs in the final session to beat Warwickshire here, sending out a clear message that their Championship ambitions are far from fanciful.

Aware that this might be a pivotal match following Nottinghamshire's defeat against Essex on Wednesday, Yorkshire's essentially young side faced a test of nerve that might easily have ended in frustration.

First, they encountered an adversary of unexpected resolve among their bottom-of-the-table opponents as Rikki Clarke conjured up a defiant, unbeaten 127, spanning six hours, to keep Yorkshire in the field until tea. Warwickshire had been three down overnight, leading by only 21 runs, and their form in the absence of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott this season has seldom suggested a strong survival instinct. Yet Clarke, with only one Championship century in four years before this one, would not be shifted, either by the pace of Tino Best or the skills of Adil Rashid, whose maturing leg-spin earned him five wickets in the innings and nine in the match.

After Rashid had ended a brave effort by 18-year-old Ateeq Javid two short of a half-century, Clarke did not find further meaningful support until Imran Tahir helped him add 75 for the eighth wicket, his 41 the essential component in taking the total to 371, which required Yorkshire to score 200 in a minimum of 37 overs.

Given the absence of captain Andrew Gale, as well as Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad, on international duty, it was a stiff task, one made more difficult when leading runscorer Adam Lyth was out in the second over. But Jacques Rudolph - who celebrates his first win in 11 attempts as stand-in captain - gave the innings substance with 80 off 91 balls, before a fearless unbeaten 64 from 61 deliveries by 20-year-old Jonathan Bairstow saw Yorkshire home with 14 balls to spare.

Nottinghamshire still have two matches in hand but also have to play Yorkshire twice.