Yorkshire's title hopes rest on Key generosity

Yorkshire 261 & 51-1 Kent 302
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The Independent Online

Yorkshire county Cricket club and Leeds Metropolitan University have been inextricably linked over the past few years. Headingley Stadium now carries their Carnegie name tag, while the two institutions even share the new main pavilion at the Tykes home ground. However, on day three in Leeds one of the University's current students played an innings to remember for Kent, giving his side a stay of execution in the First Division while also harming Yorkshire's chances of winning the Championship.

Alex Blake is his name, and despite not having achieved a first-class 50 before this match, the 21-year-old finished unbeaten on 105 as Kent secured a narrow first-innings lead. It was wiped out by the close, with Yorkshire finishing on 51 for 1, but his knock made sure Kent passed the 300 mark to pick up a fifth bonus point from this match.

That proved crucial as well – because, with Warwickshire making 303 in their game against Hampshire, Rob Key's side would have been relegated had they not made it to the all important figure.

They are still almost certain to go down this season, though. While the youngster's innings was the main highlight at Headingley, which saw 54 overs lost to rain, the emergence of Moin Ashraf as a future star was also noteworthy. The 18-year-old, who began the day with three wickets as Kent resumed on 216 for 6, finished with the Tykes best figures in the four day game this season to finish off the visitors tail.

The England spinner James Tredwell was his first victim, caught behind for eight, before the fast-bowler then clean bowled Matt Coles to complete his maiden five-wicket haul in the first-class game. At this stage Kent had stumbled to 261 for 9, before Blake and Dewald Nel, who made two from 30 balls, produced a dogged last-wicket stand to take Key's side over the 300 mark.

It gave them a lead of 41 runs as they closed on 302 all out, before the Yorkshire openers set about reducing the deficit. They almost made it, reaching 40 without loss until Jacques Rudolph was ousted by Tredwell for 13. Adam Lyth, who had earlier been named the home side's player of the year, managed to reach the close unbeaten on 26, with Anthony McGrath on four.

It means that both teams go into the final day of the Championship season still with plenty to play for. The most likely outcome is that both will be left disappointed as they respectively battle for the title and for survival. This has been a thrilling end to the season though, so do not discount a grandstand finish for either of these two teams yet.

"We will have to come to a happy medium before a declaration can be set," said Yorkshire's captain Andrew Gale. "Both of us need to get a result and so it is important to try and set some sort of game up. I will have a chat with Rob Key before play starts."

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