Yorkshire need swift runs to launch final-day recovery at Hampshire
After just 18 runs separated these teams on first innings, Yorkshire making 428 and Hampshire 410, the visitors fell from 55-1 to 101-5, just 119 ahead, to leave all results possible going into day four.
Hampshire, buoyed by that mini-collapse, having started the day well behind in the game (they were 225-4 and then 268-6 before the last four wickets added 142), are perhaps now favourites to achieve what would be a fifth win in seven Championship matches.
Yorkshire, who have seen their advantage steadily whittled away having been 222-2 on the first day, a total best imagined being read out by Richie Benaud, are not out of it though, with their only hope of achieving a second win in seven paradoxically to get bowled out and take it from there.
It promises to be a fascinating finale.
“Our aim is to get 200-plus,” said Ali Maiden, the Yorkshire assistant coach. “We think that would be a tough chase on that pitch, albeit you don’t know how things will go because in the first innings I thought a few went through the top and bounced a bit, but then it didn’t seem to do much when we bowled.
“Who knows what will happen, but our aim is to get up around 200 and hope some balls bounce and we see similar sorts of misbehaviour to tonight and balls spinning out of the rough.
“We could have probably bowled them out for a bigger lead. If we go in with a 60 or 70 lead, that’s a massive difference. It sets it up for a really competitive day’s cricket, but we have to do a bit of work in the morning to give our bowlers something to bowl at.”
It was not so much bad batting as good bowling which did for Yorkshire in the evening session.
At tea they had batted carefully to reach 22-0 from 12 overs, stretching their lead to 40, but there is always that problem for any side batting third in that if the scoreboard is not really going anywhere, and then wickets fall, games hitherto separated by a cigarette paper can suddenly take on a very different look.
And when the bowling is as good as Hampshire’s, even accounting for the absence of Mohammad Abbas, the Pakistan pace man, there is always the chance of little respite and a build-up of pressure.
Keith Barker, comparatively unthreatening in the first innings, took 3-22 from 15 overs this time and was well supported by Kyle Abbott and Brad Wheal, with Hampshire sniffing a victory from a game which, until tea, had very much looked to be heading for a draw.
But then the wickets started to tumble...
George Hill, the first innings centurion, edged Barker to James Vince at first slip. Adam Lyth nicked a good delivery from Barker to wicketkeeper Ben Brown, Barker then bowling Harry Brook with a full delivery for 10 – by some distance his lowest Championship score of the season (previously 41).
Abbott nipped in with the wicket of Will Fraine, who edged to Brown a ball that climbed sharply, and when Matthew Waite clipped Wheal to mid-wicket, where a diving James Fuller took a fine catch, Yorkshire were 81-5, effectively 99-5.
The visitors were indebted to some resilient work from Harry Duke and Dom Bess in the last 40 minutes or so, ensuring no further alarms, when another couple of wickets then could have spelled curtains. Duke batted for just over an hour for his 17 runs, and Bess copped a few blows on the body to repel all boarders.
Earlier, when Yorkshire began a sunny day in a strong position, Bess struck before the second new ball when Liam Dawson flashed to Lyth at slip, the batsman having grown impatient after failing to add to his overnight 61 some 20 minutes in.
The new ball did for Brown, the other unbeaten batsman overnight, with whom Dawson added 118 for the fifth wicket, when Dominic Drakes slanted one across the right-hander, Fraine taking the chance at first slip.
Bess bowled well – much better than figures of 2-120 from 34 overs might suggest – and could easily have had more wickets.
But Hampshire benefited from a number of close shaves and also some admirable late-order striking, with Aneurin Donald and Barker adding 57 for the seventh wicket and Fuller and Abbott 74 for the ninth, the latter partnership, especially, hurting Yorkshire as the pair accumulated at a fraction under a run-a-ball.
Matty Revis got rid of Donald shortly after lunch, the batsman turned around by a ball that trapped him leg-before, and Barker lost his leg stump trying to reverse-sweep a full one from Bess.
Jordan Thompson took the last two wickets of the innings, just as he had taken the first two, when Abbott and Fuller were both taken on the leg-side boundary, the all-rounder finishing with 4-68 in a whole-hearted effort.