Yorkshire v Northamptonshire: Gary Ballance helps hosts recover

Gary Ballance
LV= County Championship Division One, Headingley
Close, day one: Yorkshire 328-7 v Northamptonshire
Yorkshire 3pts, Northamptonshire 2pts
Match scorecard

England batsman Gary Ballance hit an unbeaten 117 as Yorkshire closed day one against Northamptonshire on 328-7.

He shared a 156-run stand with opener Alex Lees to drag the hosts from 57-3.

But Lees fell for 90 when Andrew Hall struck him in front, leaving Ballance to guide his side to stumps amid a flurry of wickets as Adil Rashid (33), Andy Hodd and Liam Plunkett departed.

Earlier, Hall trapped Kane Williamson either side of Mohammad Azharullah dismissing Adam Lyth and Andrew Gale.

For 24-year-old Ballance, his hundred will no doubt aid his bid for a place in new England head coach Peter Moores' first squad.

The Zimbabwe-born batsman was part of this winter's disastrous Ashes tour and received his Test cap in the series' final match, before managing a high score of 79 in four one-day international appearances.

And his county side were in need of a contribution from their younger top-order players after losing three early wickets under some morning clouds at Headingley.

Lyth nicked Azharullah behind and shortly after play had resumed following a brief shower, New Zealand international Williamson departed cheaply to leave Yorkshire 21-2.

Lees briefly rebuilt alongside Gale, but really got to work after Azharullah sent the home skipper back to the hutch lbw for 13.

The young opener patiently got to his half-century before immediately being given a life when Hall dropped him at first slip off the bowling of Maurice Chambers. And moments later, former Tykes off-spinner James Middlebrook was cursing his luck after wicketkeeper David Murphy spilled the ball with Lees out of his crease.

The 21-year-old made them pay as he marched onto 90, although he could not quite reach his fifth first-class ton.

Ballance gave Northants' not but a sniff, despite bludgeoning 11 fours on his way to 50, and hitting another 34 runs in boundaries as he reached three figures.

Rashid became the fourth leg-before victim of the day when he fell to Steven Crook for 33. Hodd added 21 before falling in the same manner to Chambers, although the keeper was lucky to get that many having been dropped on one.

Plunkett (11) too went lbw to Hall, leaving Ryan Sidebottom (four not out) alongside Ballance at stumps.

BBC Northampton's Chris Egerton:

"Gary Ballance's high-class innings was the main difference between these two sides but Northants have plugged away late on to stay in the game.

"When Ballance, with help from Alex Lees, carried all before them in the afternoon session, the newly promoted side looked under pressure.

"But six lbws in the innings showed how they bowled in the morning with the help of overhead conditions and they got themselves in the game after tea.

"You wouldn't say that Northants are in front on a pitch offering pace and carry, but their spirit and unity was evident on a day in which it was revealed David Sales suffered a recurrence of his calf injury and will be out for another couple of weeks."

Match scorecard

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