Tim Bresnan has likened Yorkshire’s potential title showdown with Middlesex to a boxing match after the all-rounder hit a century to keep the Tykes in the hunt for a third successive County Championship crown.
Resuming on 235 for six at Lord’s, the visitors knew they needed to surpass the 350-mark to take the bonus points required to overhaul Somerset in the standings after they eased to victory over Nottinghamshire at Taunton.
Bresnan remained at the crease to finish on 142 not out as Yorkshire did accrue their bonus points - although there were some hairy moments for the defending champions.
They lost three wickets for 16 runs before Ryan Sidebottom came in, survived two strong lbw appeals and an hour-long rain delay and then struck the runs to take the White Rose county over 350.
They would be all out for 390 and had Middlesex, themselves still in the title picture, on two for two before they closed on 81 without further loss - putting them 39 runs behind with eight wickets remaining.
Somerset will take their first Division One title if this match ends as a draw but Bresnan believes the final day on Friday is finely-poised to deliver a winner.
“It was a bit nerve-racking but we got over the line,” he said of the chase to 350.
“It is a bit weird. It is like just before you start fighting. You are eyeing each other up and it is like who is going to land the first punch at the minute.
“The game was drifting for a spell but that is because we bowled so well and they felt threatened.
“As it stands, it is probably about even-steven and we need to bowl well again tomorrow. The shorter the chase probably plays into our hands but even if it is 200 off 10 overs we have still got to swing and get them.
“The tension is off us a bit now and is on them, they have got to make all the running to create a result in this game.”
Middlesex had looked in a strong position overnight but were frustrated by Sidebottom and Bresnan’s resistance.
Their approach on the final day will be intriguing and Tim Murtagh admits the plan of action for Friday is still up in the air as Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan take to the crease in the morning.
“We are a little bit confused as to the options and what we want to do,” he said.
“We obviously want to try and win the game and win the title, that is a massive thing but we don’t just want to hand the title to Yorkshire.
“We are going to have to bat well for an hour or two in the morning and if we do the ball is in their court. If we lose two or three in the morning we are right up against it.
“I’d say you need 50 overs minimum, that may prove difficult for us to get far enough ahead, but who knows?
“Things can happen quickly and if they are chasing a big score in 40 overs they will go for it and could leave the door open for us as well, there are a lot of possibilities going into the last day.”