ADIL RASHID returned his best figures for 13 months – and his best at Headingley for four years – as Yorkshire took a potentially significant step towards the County Championship title by forcing holders Durham to follow-on yesterday.
Rashid captured 4-73 from 20 overs as Durham were dismissed for 231 in reply to Yorkshire’s 426 before ending day three on 59-1, 136 runs adrift.
It was Rashid’s best haul since his 5-78 against Middlesex at Lord’s in June last year and his best at Leeds since his 5-137 against Warwickshire in 2010.
The question now is whether it will provide the impetus for a fifth Championship win of the season that would send Yorkshire 16 points clear at the top with five games to play.
It is not a gimme by any stretch of the imagination.
Not for nothing are Durham champions – although one would not necessarily have known that by some of their dismissals yesterday – and the weather could yet play a part.
But if Yorkshire can get over the line they would be firmly in the box seat approaching the final quarter of the campaign, a point they will reach at the end of their next match against Middlesex at Scarborough that starts on Saturday week.
At any event, Yorkshire would still be top by five points ahead tonight even if this fixture ends in a draw.
Rashid, who missed the previous two Championship games through paternity leave, and who is now the proud father of a little boy, made a decisive impact in the second hour of yesterday’s afternoon session.
Durham had rallied from 119-5 at lunch to 170-5 through captain Paul Collingwood and wicketkeeper Phil Mustard, raising their hopes of reaching the follow-on target of 277.
But Rashid had Mustard caught at short-leg to end 68 minutes of stoic resistance, and then had John Hastings held at slip and Paul Coughlin taken at deep mid-on, a curious way to depart given the state of the game.
Rashid’s first wicket had come from the final ball before lunch, Michael Richardson also playing a curious shot under the circumstances when he advanced down the track and was caught and bowled. It was a tenacious effort by Rashid, who stuck to his task in admirable style.
“I felt OK in patches,” he said.
“I feel in a better place this year than I did last year and the year before, and hopefully the wickets will stay dry and I can get some overs under my belt. Overall, I thought we bowled exceptionally well on a wicket that wasn’t really offering much; we stuck to our disciplines and got our rewards.
“Hopefully, we can keep that going on the final day.”
Durham began day three on 50-1, with Keaton Jennings and Scott Borthwick the men in occupation.
Borthwick fell in the day’s fifth over, edging a ball from Ryan Sidebottom that left him late, but Jennings and Richardson knuckled down. Jennings, the tall left-hander, cover drove Jack Brooks to the boundary and dispatched Tim Bresnan’s second ball of the day for four through mid-on.
The South African – 25 not out overnight – reached his half-century from 122 balls with eight fours, a landmark generously applauded in glorious sunshine.
Jennings did not appear for budging but Steve Patterson claimed his reward when he had him well caught low down at second slip by Adam Lyth for 56.
When Gordon Muchall played back to a full ball from Bresnan and was lbw, closely followed by Richardson’s dismissal, Durham were in trouble going into lunch.
But Collingwood – aka Brigadier Block – and Mustard dug in, although Mustard nearly fell for three when he was dropped by Alex Lees at third slip off Brooks. It was a difficult chance, diving one-handed to his left, and would have left Durham 131-6.
From the first ball of the next over, Collingwood was almost run-out when he pushed a single off Patterson to mid-on, where Brooks went agonisingly close with his shy at the stumps.
But apart from a vociferous Sidebottom appeal for lbw against Mustard, which appeared to have more than a little going for it, the sixth-wicket pair fought hard to add 51 in 19 overs.
Rashid’s triple strike left Durham 194-8, and after a stand of 34 between Collingwood and Mark Wood, Yorkshire wrapped up the innings shortly after tea.
Patterson had Wood lbw and Sidebottom trapped Rushworth, Collingwood finishing unbeaten on 64 on a pitch he afterwards suggested was substandard.
Yorkshire had to wait 19 overs to break through second time around, Lyth bowling Jennings with his part-time off-spin.
Mark Stoneman and Borthwick lived to fight another day, with Durham set to resume on an almost identical total to which they started day three.
Scoreboard: Page 26.