County Championship Cricket: Yorkshire find right balance on opening day at Taunton

Gary Ballance. PIC: Steve Riding
Gary Ballance. PIC: Steve Riding
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Yorkshire began their LV= County Championship campaign with a dominant batting display to put the pressure on home side Somerset on the opening day of their Division One clash at Taunton.

The White Rose county are looking to go one better than the runners-up spot they achieved last season, and the early signs were promising as half-centuries from Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and Adil Rashid saw them reach 342-5 at stumps and claim three bonus batting points.

Somerset almost seized immediate reward from their decision to field first when an outside edge from Alex Lees was put down by Alviro Petersen at slip just three overs in.

And the mistake was swiftly punished as Lyth and Lees combined to put 50 on the board after 12.2 overs with a boundary from the latter, the ninth of the visitors’ innings.

Somerset made the breakthrough soon after though, when Craig Meschede removed Lees’ off stump, with the young Yorkshireman walking for 34.

Kane Williamson lasted just six balls before the New Zealander fell without scoring after swiping a Meschede delivery to Chris Jones at mid off.

Lyth kept the runs ticking over and reached a 71-ball half-century with a boundary off Craig Overton – a stroke which also brought up 100 for the visitors.

Captain Andrew Gale provided able support and the pair quickly notched a 50-run stand – in just 13 overs – as Yorkshire reached 127-2 two at the first interval. However, the hosts struck again early in the afternoon session, with Gale trapped lbw for 24 to give Meschede his third wicket.

Lyth then escaped on 70 when Craig Kieswetter let one slip through his gloves behind the stumps, but his innings was eventually ended for 85 by Overton, with Gregory taking a superb diving catch at mid-wicket.

Ballance and Rashid quickly formed another good partnership, seeing Yorkshire safely through to tea before the former brought up his fifty off 97 balls.

Somerset’s frustrations simply grew when Rashid also passed his half-century with a boundary off Meschede, his eighth of the innings.

But the decision to take the new ball paid off immediately with Ballance sent back to the pavilion lbw by Gregory for 77, ending a 115-run partnership.

Another dropped catch followed with Rashid put down on 63, again by Petersen, and the Bradford-born all-rounder steered his score to 84 at stumps, with Andy Hodd on 22.

Elsewhere, a strong batting performance saw Nottinghamshire finish on 315-8 after the first day against Middlesex.

Six Nottinghamshire players posted 20 or higher at Lords, with James Taylor top-scoring on 62 before being trapped lbw by James Harris, who took 4- 80.

Taylor hit 13 fours from his 84 balls and having settled at the crease, he will have been disappointed not to have made a bigger score.

The visitors elected to bat and made a steady start. Steven Mullaney hit 52 at the top of the order before being caught by Dawid Malan off Steven Finn, who ended the day with four for 87.

Durham put on 265-5 at Northamptonshire, while Sussex showed little mercy, setting 229 after hosts Warwickshire had been skittled for just 87.

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