Bairstow stars as Yorkshire go top
Yorkshire completed a thrilling fourth-innings run-chase to beat Warwickshire at Headingley Carnegie and open up a 21-point lead at the top of the LV= County Championship.
Four days of intriguing cricket came down to the final quarter of an hour as the hosts overhauled a target of 200 with just 14 balls to spare, securing a 23-point haul that saw them comfortably usurp Nottinghamshire at the summit of Division One.
Jacques Rudolph’s fine 80 set Yorkshire on their way after Warwickshire had finally been bowled out for 371, but Jonathan Bairstow took the plaudits with a superb unbeaten 64 off 61 deliveries which carried them over the finish line shortly before 6pm.
A Yorkshire victory, by the margin of six wickets, was particularly tough on Rikki Clarke, whose magnificent 127 not out at least gave Warwickshire hope of a draw that looked nigh on impossible when they were forced to follow on 172 behind yesterday.
Resuming on 193 for three this morning, Warwickshire were indebted to Clarke’s immensely mature century – his first since April last year – which spanned more than six hours.
Imran Tahir also played his part with a sprightly 41, but he managed a solitary wicket from 11.4 expensive overs as Rudolph and Bairstow eased the nerves caused by the early loss of Adam Lyth and Anthony McGrath and an escalating run-rate.
It was fitting that Bairstow was accompanied by Adil Rashid at the close, the all-rounder having taken 5-137 from 39 often trying overs in the second innings on a wearing but largely reliable pitch that offered only slow turn.
A comprehensive Warwickshire defeat appeared highly likely when they lost three wickets in little more than an hour in the morning session.
Ateeq Javed, 37 not out overnight, fell two runs short of a maiden first-class fifty when he was caught behind pushing forward at Rashid, Tim Ambrose had his off stump uprooted by an off-cutter from Richard Pyrah, and Steven Patterson won an lbw verdict against Steffan Piolet despite concerns over height.
Neil Carter, playing back to a ball that may have kept a shade low, perished shortly after lunch for a useful 21, by which time Warwickshire’s lead stood at 113 and Clarke, who began the day on 51, was 14 away from a century.
Tahir not only accompanied him to three figures, but dominated an eighth-wicket stand worth 75 that was high on entertainment.
Dropped on 19 by a leaping Tino Best at deep mid-off off Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Tahir otherwise swung to good effect, most notably when he drilled Azeem Rafiq for six over long-off.
Clarke’s glorious straight drive off Best had taken him to a 235-ball century moments earlier, and he pulled Rashid into the stand at deep midwicket after Tahir and Boyd Rankin had perished in successive overs.
Tahir skied a drive off Patterson to McGrath at mid-off, while Rankin was run out as Clarke chased an implausible second to Pyrah at deep cover.
Troughton, who retired hurt last night after being struck above the eye by a delivery from Best, failed to add to his 17 before he edged a flailing drive at Patterson to second slip.
That left Clarke unbeaten for the second time in the match, his having batted for more than nine and half hours in total.
Although Lyth steered Rankin’s second ball to Clarke at second slip and McGrath was trapped in front by the same bowler attempting a leaden-footed drive, a third-wicket stand of 79 between Rudolph and Bairstow stabilised the Yorkshire innings.
While Rudolph drove stylishly en route to a 64-ball half-century, Bairstow favoured the leg side, and continued to do so after his partner had been beaten by Rankin’s throw from fine-leg and Ambrose’s fine pick-up.
Consecutive overs from Piolet and Darren Maddy cost 12 and 13 respectively as Bairstow demonstrated not only his power but also his composure, reducing the equation to a manageable 39 off 42 balls.
That proved well within the capabilities of Bairstow and Rashid, both of whom made light of Gerard Brophy’s departure – bowled round his legs as he swept Tahir – to scamper their way home.
As the giant screen boasted, it was “an impeccable run-chase”.