MATCH CENTRE 

Dawid Malan completed an excellent 106 before unbeaten Pakistan international Haider Ali reached the same milestone during the second half of day two at the Queen’s Park ground in Chesterfield to change the complexion of the fixture. 

Yorkshire still have the upper hand in an LV= Insurance County Championship fixture which has reached its halfway point with Derbyshire at 248-4 after 59 overs of their second innings, leading by six runs. 

But the result is far from the foregone conclusion it looked when the hosts had fallen to 17-4 just after lunch, still 225 runs in arrears. 

Yorkshire secured a first-innings lead of 242 on the stroke of lunch, with Malan’s second Championship century of the season the feature of 353 all out, including a career best 5-83 from left-arm spinner Mark Watt. 

The hosts then lost four new ball wickets inside eight overs of their second innings, leading many to believe that a two-day finish in this Division Two clash was inevitable.

But Ali and his captain Leus du Plooy had other ideas, and they were superb through to close in reaching 129 not out and 96 not out respectively. They shared an unbroken 231 inside 51 overs, a Derbyshire fifth-wicket record in first-class matches v Yorkshire. 

They followed initial caution with aggression, particularly Ali, who posted his first century in Derbyshire colours since joining the county on an overseas deal in April. 

Yorkshire started a sultry day on 272-5 with Malan on 76, and he went on to complete his century off 130 balls before falling as the first of five wickets to wrap up the innings before lunch.

Scottish international Watt was in truth the only home player to come out of this quick-fire fixture with any credit, him claiming three of the morning wickets.

In a perfect world, Yorkshire would have wanted full batting points for reaching 450. But this pitch wasn’t a featherbed and a score of 350 was a fine effort.

Five of the first six wickets put on half-century partnerships, a run completed with sixth-wicket pair Malan (16 fours and a six in 143 balls) and Matthew Revis extending their overnight stand to 59.

Malan was the first of the morning wickets, brilliantly caught by a diving Suranga Lakmal at mid-off against Watt as Yorkshire slipped to 325-6.

Jordan Thompson and Matthew Fisher later holed out to the same bowler, while fellow spinner Alex Thomson struck, as did seamer Ben Aitchison. 

A feature of Malan’s innings was his driving. And while Revis was strong off the front and back foot through the off-side in a useful 32, an on driven push down the ground off Sri Lankan pacer Lakmal was the pick of his six boundaries.

Yorkshire then continued their dominance in the early stages of the afternoon when Coad and Fisher got the new ball back in their hands, the hosts losing four top order wickets inside eight overs.

Coad trapped Harry Came lbw before getting Wayne Madsen caught at first slip by George Hill. Either side of those successes, Fisher had trapped Luis Reece lbw and had Matt Lamb caught at first slip, Hill the catcher again.

The wicket of Reece was Fisher’s 100th first-class wicket.

Matthew Fisher

But winning Championship fixtures is far from easy, as the last season-and-a-half has shown.

And there was always likely to be some Derbyshire resistance.

That came from fifth-wicket pair du Plooy and Ali, who gave the crowd a lift. 

They first of all steadied and then attacked. Seventy seven runs came in 10 overs from the start of the 20th, the pair taking the score from 74-4 to 151-4.

As this was happening, Yorkshire’s managing director of cricket Darren Gough was a guest on the BBC Radio online commentary of the game, and he revealed that he has lined up an Australian seam bowling overseas signing for the next four Championship games, starting against Gloucestershire at Headingley on June 25.

Gough and coach Ottis Gibson are keen to bolster their bowling ranks in order to ease the burden on the county’s current crop of bowlers, some of whom are managing injuries or battling back to full fitness.

In the play Gough was watching, his bowlers were now being challenged. 

Du Plooy reached his fifty first off 61 balls before Ali, whose came off 60, scooted beyond the left-hander as he hit a couple of sixes over long-on off Dom Bess.

By the time Ali reached his century off 127 balls, Derbyshire were 192-4 in the early stages of the evening and trailing by 50.

Shortly afterwards, he hit three of four fours off a Bess over – one through cover and two over as the 200 partnership was reached (218-4 after 49 overs).

The partnership between Ali and du Plooy surpassed the previous fifth-wicket best of 184 shared between John Eggar and Alan Revill at Bradford in 1949. 

Bad light then ended play 10 overs early – just before 6pm – with thunder, lightning and rain coming quickly afterwards. 

PHOTOS: John Heald.

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