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Finch hits first Yorkshire ton

 

Highlights of day two at Edgbaston

 

Aaron Finch wrote his legacy at Yorkshire with a century at Edgbaston that could lead to another big victory over Warwickshire for the Division One leaders in the LV= County Championship.

The 27-year-old Australian made an eye-catching 110 from 146 balls and shared in a partnership of 123 in 30 overs with long-serving county loyalist Richard Pyrah as the visitors opened up a lead of 194 when dismissed for 422.

Yorkshire's advantage is not quite as big as the 200-plus margins which led to victories by an innings in two of the last three meetings between the sides but enough for the title contenders to be dictating terms over the last two days.

Finch is appearing in his fourth championship match in a locum spell as replacement for Kane Williamson and he has one more four-day fixture before the New Zealander resumes his role at Headingley.

The two overseas batsmen will then play together in the closing matches in the NatWest T20 Blast group stage but Finch will not be available if Yorkshire qualify for the quarter-finals in August.

He returns to Australia at the end of July and no doubt he will take home special memories of a landmark innings in Birmingham.

Best known as a limited-overs batsman - holding the world record for a Twenty20 international with his 156 against England last summer - the Melbourne Renegades captain had scored only two first-class hundreds before signing for Yorkshire.

The highest and last of these, a knock of 112 for Australia A against a Zimbabwe XI in Harare, was made nearly three years ago and possibly it was the long wait, as much as the desire to succeed for Yorkshire, that stoked up the emotion of the moment.

Reaching three figures in a 6-4-4 bombardment in the space of four balls from Keith Barker, he let everything spill out in his bat-waving celebration towards team-mates on the players' balcony.

The day could have hardly been better for Yorkshire as they dissected Warwickshire's plan to attack with five seamers on a pitch designed to give more bounce and carry.

Overnight pair Alex Lees and Andrew Gale laid out their template, taking six fours - one of these all-run - in the opening three overs from Chris Wright and Boyd Rankin.

After little more than half an hour, they had 48 on the board and there was more to come even when their gallop was halted, Gale top-edging a pull off Wright to depart for 49 and Lees beaten on off-stump line by a good ball from Chris Woakes.

If there is one partnership that Yorkshire fans would want to see for entertainment value it would be Finch and Jonny Bairstow.

The pair duly lived up to the billing, adding 92 in 21 overs but only with the help of a missed chance to William Porterfield at second slip when Bairstow was on 26.

The cost mounted until he reached 68 and played on, attempting to pull a ball from Rankin, but there was no escape for Warwickshire as Pyrah continued his successful return to the Yorkshire team.

In successive days he registered both his best bowling figures and his highest score, 62 from 114 balls, for three years.

His value was in giving Finch the freedom to express himself, with nine fours and three sixes until he was out, hooking at a Rankin lifter and brushing an overhead catch to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose.

Pyrah followed soon afterwards, lbw to Rikki Clarke, but Steven Patterson secured maximum bonus points before finding short mid-wicket off Jeetan Patel, the only success for spin.

Finch may be moving on soon but he is already eyeing up a return to the White Rose, saying he would "jump at the chance" to head back.

He said: "Working with the coaches here, I think my technique has changed slightly and it's been for the better so far.

"There are a couple of things I've tightened up, only minor changes but they seem to have made a difference. It was a nice feeling to get a hundred and contribute to a really significant lead."

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