A sparkling century from overseas star Cheteshwar Pujara set up a daunting run-chase for Hampshire, before three quick wickets with the new ball for Jack Brooks left Hampshire’s hopes of chasing 449 in tatters.
It took just 15 balls of the morning session for Yorkshire to wrap up their opponents’ first innings and secure a commanding 143-run lead. Jack Brooks trapped Lewis McManus on the crease and Adil Rashid pinned James Tomlinson to end Hampshire’s innings on 227. They lost their last six wickets for just 32 runs in the space of 89 balls.
Adam Lyth and Alex Lees both have realistic chances of making their Test debuts for England this year, but neither opener covered himself in glory today. Lyth started brightly, taking ten runs off Tomlinson’s first over, but his innings faltered after he was clonked on the head by a bouncer from Fidel Edwards.
His judgement no doubt clouded by the blow, he fished outside off stump and was caught behind off Edwards for 23. Alex Lees played down the wrong line shortly after to further stall the Yorkshire march.
It fell to Pujara and Andrew Gale to recover the innings. Gale’s confidence must have been riding high after his battling 96 against Warwickshire, which Jason Gillespie described as “as good as you’ll see Galey bat”. Perhaps it was this self-belief that tempted him into a bold hook that went down Tomlinson’s throat at fine leg.
After a difficult start to his stint as Yorkshire’s overseas player. Pujara’s many qualities shone through after Gale’s departure. Edwards, who had discomforted the Indian Test batsman with the short ball in the first innings, was dispatched for three straight fours in the same over as the wicket.
Jonny Bairstow also recovered his fine touch from the first innings, on-driving Edwards for four and finding the cover boundary when the Barbadian seamer over-compensated and erred too full. Bairstow perished for 59 though, caught at slip off a quick edge while attempting to slog-sweep Dawson into the East Stand.
Pujara is only contracted to Yorkshire until the end of May, and it is not yet clear what further part he will play in their campaign to retain the LV County Championship title. If he doesn’t bat here again, he leaves the Yorkshire crowd with fond memories of a truly spectacular innings.
His battle against the short ball from Edwards will undoubtedly be the defining point of his innings, and quite possibly this match. He looked extremely susceptible to the bouncer on day one, but he hooked and pulled to force James Vince to take Edwards out of the attack. Once spin was brought on at both ends, he looked completely untroubled and brought up his century with a casual flick for two off Liam Dawson after tea. After celebrating his century to warm ripples of applause from the sparse crowd of Yorkshire devotees, he added 33 in 19 balls to heap more misery on the heads of the Hampshire bowlers.
Yorkshire’s quest for the T20 Blast trophy begins at home to Derbyshire on Friday, and Jack Leaning took advantage of his side’s substantial lead to get some hitting practice in. He clubbed Dawson for a six over long on, and struck six fours in an unbeaten partnership of 95 from just 72 balls.
When Gale declared, Yorkshire’s lead stood at 448. The “tricky hour” before stumps started horribly for Hampshire, as Jack Brooks induced edges from Sean Terry and Michael Carberry in consecutive balls to get on a hat-trick for the second time in the match. As in the first innings, however, the hat-trick ball was solidly defended off the back foot. A forgettable match for stand-in skipper James Vince was complete when he poked a drive off Brooks to Lyth at second slip for two, and Dawson was lbw to Rashid shortly before the close.
Tomorrow promises to be a tough grind for the few Hampshire batsmen that remain. Today was a show of dominance from Yorkshire that will serve as a strong statement of their intent: they will not give up the County Championship without a fight.