Root smacks double century to give Yorkshire a victory chance

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Joe Root struck the first double century of a blossoming career as Yorkshire recovered from a potential crisis in unexpected sunshine at the Ageas Bowl.

Root, 46 not out overnight, showed why he is rated so highly in Yorkshire and increasingly beyond with an innings of great maturity and responsibility to take his side to a position of authority.

When Yorkshire’s new captain Phil Jaques declared at 350-9 from 94 overs, opening batsman Root was an impressive 222 not out.

Along the way he dominated an important stand of 67 with Gary Ballance for the fourth wicket, 121 with Steven Patterson for the eighth and 58 with last man Moin Ashraf.

Root faced 270 balls and struck 26 fours and three sixes, accelerating as he began to run out of partners.

As Hampshire’s attack visibly wilted and batting conditions improved, Root took 21 in an over from Kabir Ali and another 17 off James Tomlinson before Jaques called a halt.

Hampshire had no answer to the onslaught of 21-year-old Root who grew in confidence as the innings progressed, wresting control from the home bowlers.

What counts against Yorkshire now is the lack of time unless Jacques and Hampshire’s captain Jimmy Adams can work out a last-day formula where a run-chase might be possible.

The whole of the first day was lost to rain, only 26 overs were possible on the second and even the third was interrupted, albeit to a lesser extent.

Play did not start on time because of a sizeable late shower and there was another hold-up around the lunch break so that, again, a full day’s play did not take place.

Yorkshire began the third day at 83-3 and soon degenerated to 108-6 as Hampshire made the most of the overcast conditions which then prevailed.

Ballance added two to his overnight 17 when at 95 he edged left-arm pace bowler James Tomlinson to first slip where Liam Dawson held on.

Anthony McGrath was the next to go at 103, getting a touch to wicketkeeper Michael Bates off Dimitri Mascarenhas and five runs later at 108, Yorkshire lost their sixth wicket.

Richard Pyrah faced only seven balls before giving Mascarenhas a return catch and suddenly Yorkshire were facing the prospect of a low total.

But as the sun came out, the wicket eased and Yorkshire and, in particular, Root began to prosper and get on top of the bowling.

Azeem Rafiq helped stabilise the Yorkshire response by helping Root put on 53 for the seventh wicket in 13 overs before Kabir Ali sneaked one through his defences.

Along the way Root reached the fourth century of his first-class career from 178 balls and set his sights on overhauling his previous career best of 160.

But the crucial partnership was for the seventh wicket as Patterson dug in and Hampshire, no longer getting any assistance from the pitch, struggled to make the most of their earlier dominance.

Hampshire could find no way past Root or Patterson until their seventh-wicket stand had occupied 33 precious overs.

By the time Patterson nudged Tomlinson to Bates, the damage had been done. Patterson had made 37 from 139 balls and Yorkshire were now a respectable 282-8.

Steve Harmison, making his batting debut on loan from Durham, did not last long. Harmison was ninth out at 292, providing Bates with his fifth catch of the innings, but Hampshire’s torment was not over.

With Ashraf providing passive but valuable support, another 58 were gleaned in the evening session and it was then that Root cut loose with an array of brilliant attacking strokes.

Root struck two sixes in an over from Kabir Ali and another from Tomlinson before Jaques decided to test Hampshire’s batting resolve over the few remaining overs of a truncated day.

In the corresponding fixture last season, South African veteran Neil McKenzie and Michael Carberry compiled a stand of more than 500. While Carberry is injured, McKenzie was there to frustrate Yorkshire again in the gathering gloom. Harmison struggled for length and line at the start of his first stint, and conceded 19 from his first three overs.

By the close Hampshire had reached 39 without loss from 12 overs, a deficit of 311. With more rain promised it is hard to see a positive outcome.