Leaders Hampshire battle out for draw at Yorkshire
Hampshire were given a scare by Gary Ballance as they batted out for a draw at Yorkshire in the Specsavers County Championship.
The former England batsman became the first Headingley batsman to hit five hundreds in five first-class outings as the visitors claimed nine points to sit top of division one.
Yorkshire were the most likely winners at the start of day four and later set a victory target of 279 in 48 overs – reducing Hampshire to seven for two and then 35 for three with 35.3 overs remaining at tea.
However, they later closed on 158 for five through fifties for Joe Weatherley (66) and Rilee Rossouw (54 not out).
The White Rose began on 207 for three in their second innings, leading by 153, and advanced to 332 for five declared.
Duanne Olivier and then Ben Coad twice struck as Hampshire’s top order wobbled, including the loss of Ajinkya Rahane and captain Sam Northeast, only for things to settle after tea.
Leaders Hampshire have now won three, lost one and now drawn one and moved seven points clear of Somerset after five games – one more than the Taunton county have played.
Yorkshire remain unbeaten with two wins and two draws and are third.
The start of play was delayed until 11.45am, only for more rain to take the players off again at 12.15pm, forcing an early lunch.
But there was enough time for Ballance to move from 83 overnight to 100 off 164 balls, including 15 fours.
The left-hander has now scored a century in each of Yorkshire’s four matches and has five on the trot going back to the final game of last season at Worcestershire.
The 29-year-old has six career Championship centuries against Hampshire and has also made his way to 538 division one runs this season at an average of 89.66.
Ballance fell lbw six balls after reaching his century and five balls into the afternoon, lbw to Mason Crane’s leg-spinners as the score fell to 239 for four – a lead of 185 with 67 overs left in the day.
Jack Leaning also contributed 41 and Jonny Tattersall a busy 51 not out off 53 balls, the latter sharing an unbroken 64-run partnership in 10.1 overs for the sixth wicket with David Willey (26).
Tattersall reached his fifty with back-to-back boundaries off Keith Barker before the declaration came two balls later.
Despite struggling with his run-up from the Kirkstall Lane End of the ground, Olivier then gave Yorkshire the ideal start with the ball when he had Oli Soames caught and bowled off a top-edged pull.
In the next over, Coad uprooted Rahane’s middle stump with an in-swinger, via inside edge, to leave Hampshire two down and nervous under overcast skies.
Ex-South Africa quick Olivier, who could quite easily have been playing in the World Cup opener at the Oval had he not signed a three-year Kolpak contract in late February, lost his run-up on numerous occasions.
Three balls before tea, Coad then had Northeast caught low down at mid-wicket, leaving Hampshire at 35 for three with 35.3 overs remaining.
Weatherley and Rossouw shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 102, with both men reaching their fifties off 84 and 66 balls respectively. Dom Bess had Weatherley caught at mid-wicket with a little under 13 overs remaining before bowling Ian Holland with 4.4 to go.
The players shook hands two overs early.