Yorkshire, thanks largely to Ryan ten Doeschate’s unbeaten 70 on day two, are under significant pressure at the halfway mark of their clash with Essex at Chelmsford.
The White Rose face an uphill battle to secure a positive result from their ninth Specsavers County Championship fixture of the season.
After posting 208 in their first innings on day one, Yorkshire fought hard with the ball to leave Essex at 222-7 in reply, claiming three wickets for 20 in a fruitful start to the afternoon session on day two.
Duanne Olivier trapped former England Test batsman Tom Westley lbw for a season’s best 81 on a slow pitch during that spell.
But Essex captain ten Doeschate steered his side to 328 and a lead of 120 with help from tail-end pair Peter Siddle and Aaron Beard, the latter who added 41.
Yorkshire started their second innings with 21 overs remaining in the day and closed on 38-3, trailing by 82.
Essex’s total was the highest in Championship cricket at Chelmsford this season, where they are chasing a fifth win from five games.
Yorkshire limited the runs during the morning as Essex advanced from 122-3 overnight to 193-4 at lunch – 71 runs in 32 overs. But the hosts seemed reasonably happy to eke out the runs.
Matthew Fisher claimed the only wicket of the morning when Rishi Patel (35) chipped him to Will Fraine at mid-wicket, leaving Essex at 169-4 after 71 overs and ending a 68-run partnership with Westley.
After lunch, Yorkshire’s hopes of limiting the lead to manageable proportions were raised with three quick wickets.
Olivier had Westley lbw as he played across the line before Ben Coad had Adam Wheater caught behind off the inside edge, leaving the score at 219-6 in the 83rd over – now with the new ball.
Fisher then forced Simon Harmer to play on a little more than three overs later as Essex led by 14.
Unfortunately, things went downhill for the visitors from there as busy ten Doeschate played South African left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj (3-93 from 36 overs) with comfort.
He reached 50 off 79 balls, sharing 31 for the eighth wicket with Australian Siddle (19) before the latter was bowled by Maharaj – 253-8 in the 94th over.
Ten Doeschate, who hit Maharaj for two sixes over long-on, and Beard then shared 75 in 23 overs for the ninth wicket to take their side beyond 300.
Yorkshire missed out on a third bowling bonus point before Maharaj wrapped up the innings by bowling Beard and getting Jamie Porter caught at second slip by Tom Kohler-Cadmore in the 117th over.
Ten Doeschate went beyond 50 for only the second time this season in Championship cricket, with him scoring a century against Surrey in April.
Yorkshire’s second innings started shakily in the face of overseas seamer Siddle, who reduced them to 14-2 in the eighth over.
First of all, he bowled Fraine through the gate for three as the opener pushed forwards before Gary Ballance (four) was the victim of a superb one-handed catch by wicketkeeper Wheater diving to his left in front of first slip.
Off-spinner Harmer then had Kohler-Cadmore lbw for eight pulling a ball which seemed to keep a touch low – 30-3 in the 16th.
Adam Lyth has nine and Harry Brook five.