BAD weather prevented Yorkshire from declaring as soon as they would have wished in Birmingham yesterday, and only bad weather is likely to prevent them from winning the game at some point today.
Warwickshire head into the final day on 43-1 in their second innings, a deficit of 390, with Yorkshire odds-on to record a victory that would extend their lead at the top of the table.
When Yorkshire did pull out at 5.35pm, Warwickshire required 434 to win from a minimum of 110 overs.
Considering that they dismissed their opponents for 69 in the first innings, when Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks blew them away inside 29 overs, Yorkshire had more runs in the bank than they would reasonably need, although Warwickshire could not be expected to bat as poorly second time around.
Such has been Yorkshire’s dominance to date, they could probably have declared on their overnight 125-1, a lead of 269, and still prevailed.
They lost 46 overs to the weather yesterday, scuppering plans to declare around tea-time with a lead in the region of 450-plus, with the ground attacked by frequent showers.
Further showers are forecast today, but Yorkshire clearly believe they have enough time.
Warwickshire have never made 434 in the second innings of a Championship match – let alone to win – and they need something special to extricate themselves from a sizeable hole.
After a morning blessed with glorious sunshine, rain began falling yesterday three minutes before the scheduled start.
It relented and play was to commence at 12.10pm, only for further rain to scupper that hope.
The players finally got on at 12.45pm, with lunch put back to 1.15pm. After Yorkshire hit 21 in eight overs in untroubled style, there was irony in the fact that the ground was bathed in sunshine throughout lunch, only for further rain to permit only 10 deliveries after the break.
It was not until 3pm that the action got properly under way.
Yorkshire suffered an early setback when Jack Leaning was out straight after the resumption, caught behind pushing forward to Boyd Rankin, after making 46 from 105 balls with six fours.
Leaning, who has been in prime form this season, added 94 for the second-wicket in 32 overs with Will Rhodes.
Rhodes now became the increasing focus of attention.
Could the 20-year-old record his maiden first-class hundred?
Having begun the day on 53, Rhodes once again played confidently as he nudged and nurdled the ball around nicely.
Yorkshire promoted Aaron Finch from No 6 to No 4 in an effort to force the pace at the other end, and the Australian performed this task to the letter. He flicked Rankin for a firm boundary through mid-wicket, repeated the feat off the same bowler and then pulled the pace man for six.
There was plenty of finesse, too, about the way that Finch cover-drove Rankin for another boundary.
Sadly for Rhodes, he could not progress to a three-figure score.
He had made 79 – eclipsing his previous career-best of 61 against MCC in Abu Dhabi in March – when he was caught behind driving at Oliver Hannon-Dalby, having faced 186 balls and struck six fours.
Disappointment was etched across Rhodes’s face as he left the field, and he received a consoling pat on the back from his captain Andrew Gale, the new batsman.
Although frustrated to miss out on a hundred, it was an innings that should give Rhodes plenty of confidence.
Gale did not linger, bowled by Patel for a single, and Yorkshire took tea at 227-4.
Further rain held up the restart and stole six overs, and Yorkshire attacked with gusto when the action resumed.
Jonny Bairstow hammered Hannon-Dalby for two successive sixes – one over mid-wicket, one over long-on – before he was fifth out with the score on 259, caught at deep point.
Tim Bresnan was run out in a comedy of errors as he and Finch attempted to capitalise on overthrows, while James Middlebrook was caught at cover.
Finch had reached 73 when the declaration came, made from 75 deliveries with five fours and two sixes, with former Yorkshire pace man Hannon-Dalby finishing with his team’s best figures of 3-80.
With 14 overs left in the day when they started their reply, Warwickshire suffered an immediate blow when Sidebottom trapped Varun Chopra lbw with the fourth ball.
The Warwickshire captain had been bowled shouldering arms to Sidebottom from the opening delivery of the first innings, thus recording a five-ball pair.
Yorkshire huffed and puffed in search of further wickets, but Ian Westwood and Jonathan Trott held firm.
It was a sign that Warwickshire may not go down without a fight, but there is a good deal more scrapping to be done yet.