Bairstow and Plunkett pummel Hampshire

Jonny Bairstow struck a double-hundred and England team-mate Liam Plunkett smashed a century as defending champions Yorkshire displayed their champion qualities in spectacular style on day two of their Specsavers County Championship Division One clash with Hampshire at Headingley.

Bairstow and Plunkett, with career-best scores of 246 and 126 respectively, took a depleted Hampshire attack apart in a seventh-wicket stand of 227, the hosts plundering a remarkable 323 runs in 43 overs en route to 593 for nine declared by mid-afternoon at Headingley.

Bairstow, initially with Adil Rashid but more so Plunkett, ploughed on from his overnight 107, consolidating a supreme run of Championship scores which have brought him an aggregate of 1,354 runs at more than 104 per innings since the start of last summer.

After the latest example of his vast mid-career improvement, Yorkshire were then able to unleash their much-feared pace attack in pursuit of victory to launch their bid for a hat-trick of successive titles.

But James Vince, batting with great restraint and a reassuring defence in what can only be a rearguard at best, held up the juggernaut with an unbeaten 76 in a nonetheless vulnerable 141 for five at stumps. 

Hampshire had mustered the solitary wicket of Rashid before lunch, an edge down the leg-side off James Tomlinson breaking a stand of 99, and they were powerless to contain the onslaught.

The boundaries began raining, under heavy cloud cover and floodlights, with two in the very first over as Chris Wood conceded 13 runs.

When Plunkett joined in, the run-rate was off the scale, the second new ball appearing merely to accelerate the process.

Plunkett had to settle for an unbeaten 94 at the first break, but Bairstow’s double-hundred was in safe keeping, with 26 fours and two sixes off 233 balls.

As he stood with bat high above his head baseball style, eyeing up yet another boundary, Hampshire captain Vince – bereft by then of Wood after the left-armer limped off mid-over and Liam Dawson absent with a stomach problem – could have been forgiven for asking himself why it was again that he had taken the new uncontested-toss option on day one.

By the time Bairstow finally went, well-caught on the long-on boundary by Tomlinson, it was to the ninth bowler used, Tom Alsop bagging a maiden first-class wicket.

Plunkett, evidently unable to operate without his partner, went two balls later when he was bowled round his legs sweeping at Will Smith.

He did so with a maiden Championship century under his belt, having hit 18 fours and two sixes from just 102 balls.

Cloud cover had become more occasional, but there was every expectation Hampshire would struggle in reply – with a follow-on target of 444 decidedly distant.

They were minus both openers before tea, Alsop lbw on the back-foot defence to Ryan Sidebottom and then Michael Carberry edging an attempted drive at Plunkett to be well caught by Alex Lees away to his left at slip.

Vince lost Smith and Dawson too, pinned lbw by Jack Brooks and then Sidebottom – the 999th wicket of the latter’s professional career across the formats – and nightwatchman Tomlinson was gone before the close.

But captain Vince had dug in and then hit a sudden rush of five fours in eight balls to reach his fifty from 102 deliveries, taking his chance – like Yorkshire’s three centurions before him – to impress watching National Selector James Whitaker.

Bairstow said: “To have 270 on the board at the start of the day was very good and Adil Rashid helped to set the tone. The way Liam Plunkett played was absolutely fantastic. 

“When someone is striking the ball like that you just let them go as much as possible. I am absolutely delighted to score a double-century at Headingley. It is nice to hit the season running but it is a long season.

“First and foremost I have to keep wicket well and we certainly face a tough task over the next two days.”

Hampshire coach Dale Benkenstein said: “It has not been an easy two days for us. I thought we were at our best yesterday when we had the best of the conditions but we didn’t bowl well today.

“We had an opportunity to get on top of the game but unfortunately we didn’t do that. There were patches of good stuff but in first-class cricket patches are not enough and you have to do it over and over again.

“We have now to try and salvage as much as we can out of the game. Having Dawson and Wood injured makes life pretty tough and we have not been able to get 11 on the park but Jonny Bairstow was fantastic and we were pretty much off the boil.

“James Vince is batting very well and international class players do stand out in county cricket. Hopefully, Vince can help us get a respectable total.”

Source: ECB

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