Mal Loye and VVS Laxman both recorded superb hundreds to help Lancashire push for their fourth LV County Championship victory of the season against Yorkshire at Old Trafford.
The pair shared a third wicket partnership of 225 in 64 overs, and were the mainstays of Lancashire’s commanding first innings total of 489-5 declared in reply the visitors’ 181 all out.
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It proved to be only the second time in 29 LV Division One matches that Lancashire had managed to claim the maximum of five batting bonus points for reaching 400 – and it was mainly thanks to 146 for Loye and 109 for Laxman.
It was another difficult day for the White Rose county, but they will bowl worse than this and gain more reward.
Lancashire declared with a lead of 308, allowing themselves a minimum of 121 overs to bowl the visitors out for victory. They managed 25 of them tonight, and restricted Yorkshire to 71-2 at close on day three.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid claimed two of the three Lancashire wickets to fall in the day. He bowled Loye in 116th over of the innings, and had Laxman caught off a wide delivery at slip by Jacques Rudolph six overs later.
Loye set the tone by clobbering Rashid for a towering straight six off just the third ball of the day, and reached his first century since April, 2007 off 158 balls with a square cut four off Tim Bresnan.
“I would say that’s the best I have played for about ten years,” said Loye. “I have fought really well in terms of getting runs – but, in terms of balance and just feeling as though you are not going to get out, that’s the best I have felt.
“It wasn’t quite the big one I really wanted, I was eyeing up a double to be honest with you. It’s something that I’ve been searching for for a number of years, hence why I was disappointed in getting out. Hopefully, in the next few games, I will go on and get a proper score.”
Loye hit a total of 18 fours and two sixes in his 234-ball stay at the crease. This was Laxman’s third century for Lancashire, and his highest score. While Loye was composed throughout his knock, Laxman’s innings was full of elegance.
But, with Lancashire needing 15 runs off the 120th over to reach 400, Laxman ditched the elegance, opened up and clattered Rashid for the runs required.
Batting and bowling points are accrued within 120 overs of the first innings, and they were in danger of missing out because of some good Yorkshire bowling and a little bit of absentmindedness.
“I don’t think VVS realised about the bonus points system, and when I mentioned it to him during the last seven or eight overs he was a bit surprised,” explained Loye. “We got ourselves in a bit of a mess, but we got out of it.”
Ajmal Shahzad, who was tight along with Matthew Hoggard and Bresnan, finally got his reward when Francois du Plessis (18) was well caught by Joe Sayers at short cover in the 127th over.
That left Lancashire at 426-5 before Mark Chilton (38 not out) and stand-in captain Luke Sutton (30 not out) shared an unbroken 63 in eleven overs before declaring. Bresnan finished with the pick of the Yorkshire figures with 1-90 from 34 overs.
Yorkshire then made a bad start to their second innings as Sajid Mahmood forced Sayers to edge to Laxman at second slip in the fifth over, while Tom Smith trapped Anthony McGrath lbw not offering a shot ten overs later.
Rudolph finished the day 33 not out, and Andrew Gale reached 17 but Yorkshire are still 237 runs behind.
Loye believes spin could play a big part tomorrow as the Red Rose search for the eight wickets they need for the win, while he also admitted that the ongoing third wicket stand between Rudolph and Gale could be the key to Yorkshire’s hopes of survival.
[Day 1 Report I Day 2 Report]
Photos: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd