The threat of a final-day defeat at Kia Oval, plus signs of a Somerset revival in the west, have put Yorkshire’s top-flight status in jeopardy

Yorkshire 394 (Marsh 78, Kohler-Cadmore 78, Hodd 57, Batty 3-77, van den Bergh 3-84) and 59 for 1 trail Surrey 592 (Sangakkara 164, Stoneman 131, Foakes 110, Burns 75) by 139 runs

Yorkshire were left facing a battle to avoid defeat after three days at The Oval, with their Division One status becoming increasingly imperilled. They were made to follow on for the third time this season after being dismissed for 396 by Surrey, for whom Gareth Batty and Freddie van den Bergh shared six wickets, and reached the close still 139 in arrears.

On a surface that has worn slowly but steadily, Surrey’s pair of spinners likely hold the key to victory. Batty soon brought himself on again and, although he could not add to Sam Curran’s initial breakthrough, Yorkshire have a job on their hands if they are to emulate their escape against Hampshire earlier this season, when Gary Ballance’s unbeaten double-hundred secured a draw after following on at the Ageas Bowl.

They did at least begin steadily, losing just the wicket of Tom Kohler-Cadmore in the 23 overs remaining of the evening session, as Shaun Marsh and Alex Lees reached stumps unbeaten. With Somerset closing in on victory over Lancashire and Middlesex seeking bonus points from their severely rain-affected fixture at Uxbridge, defeat here would likely leave Yorkshire in the bottom two.

Kohler-Cadmore had described the pitch as one he would “love to bat on every week” after play on the second evening and he was quickly given another chance as Yorkshire failed to reach the 443 they required to avert the follow-on. He could only manage 11 this time around before falling lbw and it remains to be seen whether he will keep his place in the side for the visit of bottom club Warwickshire to Headingley next week, with Adam Lyth likely to return and West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite set for a debut.

For a Yorkshire side that claimed the Championship trophy in 2014 and 2015, before narrowly missing out on three in a row this time last year, this has been a difficult campaign – the first under Andrew Gale as coach. Depleted by England call-ups (they are currently missing Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett and David Willey due to the limited-overs series with West Indies), they must now summon some of the grit Gale was famous for as a player if they are to see out the final day.

The morning began with van den Bergh, on his Championship debut, picking up where he left off – his spell from the Pavilion End eventually lasting 32 overs before the arrival of the second new ball allowed him a break. Aged 25, van den Burgh has played nine games of senior cricket going back to 2011, but a muscle injury for Amir Virdi meant he won a chance against Yorkshire. He should expect plenty more opportunities to impress on the final day.

Van den Bergh certainly made an impact, as he had a hand in each of the first four wickets to fall. Kohler-Cadmore had spooned a catch to point in the final overs of the second day, after an opening stand of 162, and Marsh also failed to go on, stumped for an identical 78 after being lured forward by the slow left-armer.

That was in the sixth over of the day, enough to send the first shiver through Yorkshire supporters. The captain, Ballance, then joined Lees, whose unproductive season has seen him drop down to No. 3, in a stand worth 53 but van den Bergh struck again an hour into the session. Lees had accumulated steadily but on 46 connected with a firm sweep that Ryan Patel, at square leg, dived to snatch up one-handed.

The loss of Ballance, who had been averaging 91.89 in the Championship coming into this match, was a more debilitating blow. He set off for an ambitious single having pushed towards cover and then could not get back in time as the bowler hared after it and relayed the throw to Ben Foakes behind the stumps. At 243 for 4, the good ship Yorkshire had struck an ice (van den) Bergh.

Although the rest of the innings fell away in slow motion, there was a sense of inevitability about it. Jack Leaning helped add another 59 with Andrew Hodd before edging a Curran delivery with the second new ball to Foakes; Hodd and Tim Bresnan then buckled down for 18 overs to put on 41. But with Yorkshire still 100 from the follow-on target, Batty crowbarred out two more: Bresnan taken at slip, then Azeem Rafiq lbw for a three-ball duck.

Hodd went on to a fourth fifty of the season but he could not carry Yorkshire as far as they needed. Stuart Meaker made a mess of Steve Patterson’s stumps and Foakes claimed a fourth victim with an excellent diving grab as Curran found Jack Brooks’ outside edge, before Hodd was last out trying to swing Batty into the stands and only finding cover.

Alan Gardner is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Read More