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Dominant Yorkshire closing in on title
Yorkshire took a giant step towards promotion as they dominated day two of their LV= County Championship clash with Essex.
For the first time this season, the Tykes are the outright leaders of Division Two after collecting enough bonus points at Chelmsford.
They enjoyed a superb day with bat and ball to put themselves in a dominant position at the mid-point of their final game this season.
Yorkshire will resume in the morning on 44-3 in their second innings, a lead of 179 runs, and overwhelming favourites to claim the win that would guarantee promotion.
But this might not even be necessary after matters also went their way elsewhere on a day which could not have gone much better for the county.
Former leaders Derbyshire closed on 167-5 in their first innings in reply to Hampshire’s 272 all out.
But perhaps more importantly, third-placed Kent required 187 to avoid an innings defeat to Glamorgan on 33-2 in their second innings.
If Kent do not win that match, then Yorkshire are up even if they lose at Chelmsford.
That does not look likely either after the Tykes took control against Essex thanks to a professional all-round display on the second day.
It started and ended with the bat but in between an outstanding bowling display was the true reason they are closing in on a return to the top flight.
Having posted 312 in their first innings from an overnight total of 284-8, Moin Ashraf and Azeem Rafiq were the stars of the show.
They shared seven wickets as Essex were blown away for only 177, Rafiq finishing with 3-65 and Ashraf picking up a season’s best 4-36.
Ryan ten Doeschate’s fine 62 was the only noteworthy score for the home side, who avoided the follow-on by just 14 runs. This gave Yorkshire an innings lead of 135.
The only blemish was the fall of three early second-innings wickets as Graham Napier ousted Joe Root (2), Phil Jaques (6) and captain Andrew Gale (5).
But Adam Lyth and Gary Ballance made sure no more damage would be done by the end of play. Lyth will resume in the morning on 26, with Ballance on one.