Joe Root hit a majestic 99 to give Yorkshire a realistic victory chance ahead of tomorrow’s final day of their LV= Insurance County Championship fixture against Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens.
Another weather-affected day saw Yorkshire, replying to 149 in their first innings, fall from 69-4 overnight to 111-8 as Australian seamer Michael Neser claimed a five-for on his home debut.
But Root united with captain Steve Patterson – 47 not out – either side of tea in difficult batting conditions to share a game-changing partnership of 118 for the ninth wicket as the visitors were bowled out for 230 and secured an 81-run lead.
Glamorgan then responded with 108-3 from 27 overs of their second innings at close, leading by 27.
While the England Test captain posted 99 for the first time in his professional career for county or country, this was innings fully deserving of what would have been his 32nd first-class century.
The 30-year-old also fell four runs short of 13,000 in first-class cricket when he played on to Dan Douthwaite, ending his 199-ball innings with six fours.
Play started at 1.10pm on day three, with 80 overs to bowl in the day, following overnight and morning rain.
And Yorkshire were quickly under the cosh as Neser added his fourth and fifth wickets, including Duke for a golden duck.
Dom Bess was the first wicket of day three, caught at second slip for 20 off Neser, who then had Duke brilliantly caught one-handed by a diving Joe Cooke at mid-wicket next ball having miscued a pull.
That left Yorkshire at 78-6 in the 31st over of the innings, the sixth of the day.
Jordan Thompson was later lbw to a Michael Hogan ball which kept low and pitched a long way outside leg stump – 91-7 after 34 overs.
And when Yorkshire lost their eighth wicket as David Willey clipped Douthwaite’s seam to deep square-leg, they trailed by 38 at 111-8 in the 42nd over.
But Root and skipper Patterson were about to change the course of the game in 33 overs together.
While Root worked the ball expertly on a pitch showing signs of uneven bounce, Patterson – dropped at point in his first few balls – initially took the counter-attacking approach before calming deeper into his innings.
Root’s 120-ball half-century was the first for either side in a bowler-dominated clash, with Patterson’s 47 the next best score.
Root’s was an innings which brought back memories of the 222 he scored for Yorkshire against Hampshire on a challenging Ageas Bowl surface in 2012.
In that fixture, a rainy draw, a young Root opened the batting and underpinned the county’s 350-9. No one else reached 40. Ironically, Patterson 37 was the next best score.
Again, here in Cardiff, Root looked a class above any other batsman on either side.
Again, Patterson contributed valuably down the order, this time with five fours in 111 balls.
Root’s dismissal came in the 75th over when he tried to defend at Douthwaite and played on (229-9). In the next over, Ben Coad skewed the off-spin of Andrew Salter to backward point to leave Glamorgan with 27 overs of batting to do before close.
Yorkshire’s charge continued with the ball as Coad had Joe Cooke caught behind by Duke – his maiden career victim – as Glamorgan fell to 16-1 in the fifth over.
Thompson then struck a key blow for Yorkshire in the next over as Australian Marnus Labuschagne was bowled with a beauty of a nip-backer for a three-ball duck – 17-2.
Labuschagne has scored only 33 runs in four innings as Glamorgan’s overseas player this summer.
Glamorgan then steadied for the remainder of the day through opener David Lloyd and aggressive Kiran Carlson, with them sharing an unbroken 65. Lloyd has 40 and Carlson 44 off only 42 balls.