MATCH CENTRE

Dawid Malan continued his Headingley love affair with another first-class century at the place he calls home – a memorable 132 – before Matt Milnes capped an excellent day two on debut with three wickets to keep Yorkshire ahead against Leicestershire.

Malan’s reputation on the world stage is because of his weight of runs against the white ball for England, but his record against the red cherry is pretty impressive as well.

In 206 matches, he has scored 29 first-class centuries, including one in Test Matches and four of them playing domestically whilst wearing the white rose on his chest.

All four of his Yorkshire hundreds since signing on from Middlesex at the start of 2020 have come in six first-class matches here at Headingley, the others being scores of 219, 199 and 152 in either the Bob Willis Trophy or the LV= Insurance County Championship.

His latest century, a 154-ball effort with 17 fours and a six, ensured Yorkshire advanced from 285-3 overnight to 517 all out. Milnes also contributed an impressive 75 as nightwatchman before Dom Bess added 49.

Leicestershire then replied with 201-5 from 60 overs, recovering from 64-3 thanks mainly to experienced international duo Colin Ackermann and Peter Handscomb, who shared 121 for the fourth wicket.

Thankfully, though, new ball seamer Milnes got rid of the former as the first of two late wickets and finished with 3-46 from 15 overs as he continues an impressive start to Yorkshire life following his winter move from Kent. 

Matt Milnes day two v Leicestershire

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Malan started the day only needing nine runs for a hundred, which he duly achieved off 135 balls.

In excellent batting conditions, he took full toll on a Foxes attack who have been unable to attain any control across the first two days of this contest.

After reaching his hundred, he pulled Ackermann’s off-spin over mid-wicket for his only six to add to 17 boundaries.

A lot of focus coming into the season has been on 18-year-old Leicestershire all-rounder Rehan Ahmed following his winter debut across all formats for England, including seven wickets on Test debut in Pakistan in December.

Ahmed’s leg-spin went for 22 off his first of fours over yesterday, but did recover today even though he conceded 15 off his first over of the day when Milnes hit three boundaries – one a pull, another hammered down the ground on the up and the third paddled to fine-leg.

But just when you thought Malan would look to really open his shoulders, he chipped his international colleague to long-off, leaving Yorkshire at 363-4 and ending a 94-run stand with Milnes.

Ahmed later had George Hill stumped and Bess bowled, the latter ending Yorkshire’s innings after lunch in 102 overs, by which time the five batting bonus points had long since been secured.

Yorkshire fans will know that their new fast bowling signing Milnes could bat, him scoring a career best 78 for Kent in a game the visitors won at Canterbury a couple of Aprils ago. And this innings only served to remind them of his capabilities down the order.

This positive innings – nine fours in 105 balls – came up the order, in at number five as nightwatchman last night.

Late in Yorkshire’s innings, as wickets fell, Jordan Thompson and Bess both hit a trio of sixes apiece, with the former’s first in an innings of 26 ensuring the fifth batting point from 445-8 in the 91st. Matthew Revis had just fallen for 27.

Off the field, there were a couple of things to note at Headingley today. Dr Jane Powell, the club’s new president, was here watching the team for the first time since her appointment last month. 

Just before lunch, Yorkshire also announced the overseas signing of Pakistan batter Saud Shakeel on an initial four-game Championship deal. He debuts against Gloucestershire at Bristol next week.

When Yorkshire started their search for 20 wickets to begin 2023 with a win, things started encouragingly.

Milnes had Sol Budinger caught at mid-off following a miscue, Ben Coad had Lewis Hill caught at second slip and Thompson claimed a superb one-handed driving return catch off a looped inside-edge into pad as Rishi Patel fell, leaving the visitors at 64-3 in 15 overs.

Thompson catch

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

But credit to the men from Grace Road because they refused to wilt, just as Ahmed had done with the ball.

They were rewarded with a partnership either side of tea as Dutch all-rounder Ackermann and Australian wicketkeeper-batter Handscomb frustrated the hosts with determined half-centuries.

Both men raised their bats off 99 balls, Handscomb having been dropped at first slip by Hill off Thompson. 

But the 2017 Headingley overseas player saw Ackermann, for 67, and fellow overseas Wiaan Mulder fall to Milnes late in the day as the score fell to 187-5 in the 55th over.

Ackermann was caught and bowled and Mulder caught behind by Shai Hope, who had earlier made 13 with the bat. Handscomb will begin day three on 62.

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