Gary Ballance’s excellent unbeaten 91 led Yorkshire into a commanding position against Kent at the halfway stage of their LV= Insurance County Championship fixture at Emerald Headingley.

Replying to Kent’s first-innings 305, secured shortly before lunch on day two, Ballance and Joe Root united for the third wicket during the first half of the afternoon at 48-2 and batted unbroken until early evening to share 83 inside 21 overs.

The White Rose closed on 240-5 from 77 overs, with Harry Brook making also 59 and Root 41.

Left-handed Ballance later shared 102 inside 32 overs for the fifth wicket with Brook and hit 13 fours and a six in 185 balls. Yorkshire trail by 65.

A day which started with frustration ended positively following the early departures of openers Adam Lyth and Tom Kohler-Cadmore.

On a slow surface, Kent advanced their first innings from 224-7 in the 90th over overnight, adding a useful 81 inside 23 overs to get to a score which Steve Patterson believed was around 20 runs above par.

Thankfully, his side’s batting has made it look significantly under par.

At 300-8 after 110 overs, Kent prevented Yorkshire from claiming a third bowling bonus point and pinched a third batting point of their own.

Rain delayed the start of play by 10 minutes, and Jordan Thompson uprooted Nathan Gilchrist’s middle stump as Kent fell to 244-8 in the 98th.

Marcus O’Riordan and ninth-wicket partner Miguel Cummins, Kent’s West Indian overseas fast bowler, then shared a partnership of 60.

O’Riordan finished with 40, but Cummins smashed two leg-side sixes in one Steve Patterson over, the second of which cleared the stand at the North East Corner of Headingley.

He finished unbeaten on 28 when the innings was wrapped up inside 112 overs as Duanne Olivier forced O’Riordan to play on and Matt Quinn chipped a return catch to Dom Bess.

Yorkshire were given 15 minutes of batting before lunch, a period in which Lyth was dropped on one by Joe Denly at point off Darren Stevens – a low catch but one which should have been taken.

Lyth clipped Stevens for six over mid-wicket in the early stages of the afternoon, only to fall caught at mid-on for 23 as he tried to go over the top again – 39-1 in the 16th over.

In the 21st, Kohler-Cadmore (14) played on to the seam of Gilchrist – 48-2 – bringing Ballance and close mate Root together.

They serenely took the score to 127-2 from 40 overs at tea, looking in no danger at all in reaching 44 not out and 39 respectively.

Ballance pulled and cut successive no balls from Cummins for a six and a four, while Root busily cut, deflected, worked and punched.

With that in mind, Kent were understandably delighted when Root feathered on-loan Essex paceman Quinn behind down leg nine balls into the evening as Yorkshire fell to 131-3 in the 42nd.

Kent are missing injured quicks Harry Podmore, Matt Milnes and Grant Stewart, hence Auckland-born Quinn’s signing. This is his debut.

Root is preparing for England’s June Test series with New Zealand. It was, therefore, ironic that a Kiwi should end his 69-ball innings with five fours.

Having been joined at the crease by Brook, Ballance reached his second fifty of the season off 89 balls.

Brook brought up his fourth half-century of the campaign off 69 balls inside the final hour of the day, by which time Yorkshire were 204-3 after 64 overs and trailing by 101.

But he fell lbw shortly before close to impressive youngster Gilchrist, while Jonny Tattersall was caught behind off Denly’s leg-spin three overs later as Yorkshire fell to 236-5 after 75.

The White Rose will now hope that weather doesn’t supper their pursuit of victory over the next two days, with Ballance also searching for his first century since July 2019 following illness and injury.

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