Yorkshire were boosted by centuries for Adam Lyth and stand-in captain Gary Ballance as they grabbed their three-day match against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities by the scruff on the neck on day two at Headingley.
The White Rose followed up a commanding first day display with bat and, in particular, ball by batting through the day to close on 366-5 from 104 overs and move towards what would be a morale boosting victory.
Bad light stopped play, and there was no play beyond 5.10pm.
Should Yorkshire, who lead by 227, not declare overnight, Jonny Bairstow will resume tomorrow morning on 61 not out with Dan Hodgson unbeaten on six.
Both left-handers scored centuries in last year’s fixture between the two sides, while Ballance’s 101 off 154 balls was his third successive first-class hundred in Yorkshire colours.
The England Test player scored two hundreds in the final Championship match of last season against Surrey at the Oval just days after being called up to England’s winter Ashes squad.
Lyth top-scored with 130 off 227 balls, including 19 fours and a six.
Yorkshire began the day on 94-1 from 24.3 overs, and they lost only Jack Leaning in the morning session as the youngster loosely pulled Zafir Patel to square-leg, leaving the score at 123-2 in the 36th over.
Lyth played some eye-catching strokes on both sides of the wicket on the way to a 158-ball ton before lunch, including 18 fours and a six.
Lyth, who also posted three figures in a match on pre-season tour of Sri Lanka last month, fell when he top-edged a sweep at off-spinner Andy Laws to fine-leg midway through the afternoon.
But there was more for Yorkshire to celebrate as Ballance, leading the side in the absence of Andrew Gale, recorded another ton. After being dropped on eight at long-leg, the England man moved untroubled towards his 19th first-class century off 149 balls with ten fours and a six.
It was just unfortunate that, like Alex Lees last night, he fell in the final over of a session when he was bowled by visiting captain Will Vanderspar to leave the score at 328-4 in the 94th over.
And just after tea, Vanderspar took his second wicket in the over – in fact, his second wicket in three balls – when he had Adil Rashid caught behind for a duck with the score still on 328.
It took Bairstow 17 balls to get off the mark, but he was soon dominating the bowling. He reached an 81-ball fifty with a straight six off the off-spin of Alex MacQueen in the 102nd over before launching him over mid-wicket for a second six in the over.
“It was good for me (innings). I didn’t get any runs in Sri Lanka on tour, so to come here and get some runs in the first game here on a pitch which was doing a bit was good.” said Ballance, who also admitted his pride at making his England Test debut in Australia this winter.
“It was a great honour to play Test cricket for your country, and to play at the SCG in the Ashes was amazing. The result didn’t go as we wanted, but it was a great moment for me and very special.”
And of his winter Down Under in general, he added: “It’s been good, but tough. In terms of results, it didn’t go too well, but I got to work hard on my game in the nets for two months. I feel like I’m a better player for it.
“We’ve got a lot of cricket now, so hopefully I can get a few runs to show that I have improved.”
Anything Adam Lyth can do, so can Gary Ballance!
After Lyth scored his second successive century against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities at Headingley today, Ballance did so too to put Yorkshire in a commanding position at tea on day two.
Ballance also scored a ton in last year’s clash, which Yorkshire won.
And they look like winning this one because, in reply to 139, their first-innings total has reached 328-4 from 93.4 overs.
Lyth was the first of two wickets to fall in the afternoon session when he top-edged a sweep against off-spinner Andy Laws to Peter Ross at short fine-leg, leaving the score at 272-3 in the 79th over. He fell for 130 off 227 balls.
He and Ballance shared 149 inside 43 overs for the third wicket.
Ballance reached his ton off 149 balls with ten fours a six before being bowled by Will Vanderspar in the last over before tea for 101 off 154 balls. Jonny Bairstow will resume after tea on 29 not out.
Adam Lyth hit his second successive century against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities as Yorkshire cruised beyond the visitors’ first-innings total of 139 before lunch on day two at Headingley.
The White Rose opener, fresh from a productive pre-season tour to Sri Lanka, reached three figures off 158 balls with 18 fours and a six, playing strongly on both sides of the wicket.
Lyth hit a second-innings century against the students at Headingley last year as the hosts won by 294 runs.
Yorkshire have gone into lunch at 209-2 from 57 overs, leading by 70. Lyth is 104 not out.
Yorkshire resumed day two at 94-1 following the late dismissal of Alex Lees last night. The only wicket to fall this morning was that of Jack Leaning, caught at square-leg by Dan Young as he pulled at a Zafir Patel long hop.
Gary Ballance’s first 20 runs all came in boundaries before he reached lunch at 42 not out.
Lyth would have breathed a sigh of relief when, on 98, he was nearly run out at the striker’s end. He and Ballance have added an unbroken 86.