Yorkshire beat Surrey by an innings and 20 runs with 4.5 overs remaining at Headingley to nudge Roses rivals Lancashire off the top of the Specsavers County Championship Division One table.
The game appeared to be slipping away from title-holders Yorkshire in mid-afternoon when skipper Andrew Gale was forced to hobble off the field after earlier being struck a fierce blow just above the knee while fielding at short-leg to Kumar Sangakkara.
Sangakkara and Steven Davies were then going well in a century partnership for the third wicket but when stand-in skipper Joe Root took over the reins the game suddenly swung in Yorkshire’s favour.
Root joined the attack himself at the Football End and soon made the vital breakthrough as Sangakkara drove him to former England batsman Gary Ballance at cover and was out for 61.
In the next over from Jack Brooks, Jason Roy was caught at short midwicket by Adil Rashid and Root picked up another prize wicket when he trapped Davies lbw for 52 to reduce Surrey to 151-5. One run later, James Burke was lbw to Brooks and at tea the visitors were struggling on 161-6, still trailing by 66.
It became much gloomier soon after tea and shortly after the floodlights went on light rain brought about an interruption which caused four overs to be lost.
Ben Foakes and Tom Curran began to worry Yorkshire by settling comfortably into a seventh-wicket stand which lasted 16 overs but Root’s decision to bring back the sparingly-used Steven Patterson worked a charm as he bowled Curran with his first ball.
Surrey skipper Gareth Batty bagged a pair, being caught behind aiming a pull at Patterson, who struck again in the final hour by bowling Foakes for 21.
That made Surrey 205-9 and Patterson had figures of 8-4-15-3 at that stage, but as the last pair of Ravi Rampaul and Matthew Dunn held out stubbornly, Yorkshire were beginning to run out of overs.
Only five remained when an inspired Root called on Plunkett again and he ended the match with his first ball by dismissing Dunn lbw. After the previous day’s washout, the field had dried out sufficiently for an 11.45am start and Yorkshire promptly declared on their overnight score of 557-6 for six which gave them a first-innings lead of 227 and 84 overs at that stage in which to bowl Surrey out.
Rory Burns and Arun Harinath went inside the first 10 overs but Sangakkara and Davies began to build up the pressure until Root’s dramatic intervention.
The champions managed their first win of the season without left-arm seamer, David Willey, who suffered an abdominal strain while bowling in the first innings on Sunday, and will be out for up to six weeks.
The 26-year-old has made great strides for England’s limited-overs teams, including on the way to last month’s final of the ICC World Twenty20.
But in only his second match for Yorkshire since his move from Northamptonshire, injury has struck and may put the 26-year-old in doubt for the Royal London Series against Sri Lanka, which follows three upcoming Test matches, and begins on June 21. Yorkshire tweeted: “@david_willey diagnosed with abdominal injury, ruling him out of bowling action for 6 weeks.”
England have two left-arm seamers on the sidelines – after Willey’s fellow World Twenty20 squad member Reece Topley broke his right hand on his Hampshire debut last month.
Willey is still hoping he may be fit in time for the five-match series, and one-off Twenty20 which follows, but admits there is no way he can be sure.
“I’m hoping to get into rehab as soon as possible, and be back sooner than six weeks,” he said.
“But we’ll just have to take it step by step and go by the medical team, and see what they say.
“You always want to get picked in the England squad, but for me at the moment the main priority is getting myself back 100 per cent fit, then get some games under my belt and see where we’re at.”
Yorkshire’s next match is a four-day Championship clash against Somerset starting at Taunton on Sunday.