GARY Ballance continued his excellent tour form and Will Rhodes returned a career best 95 as Yorkshire averted danger during today’s opening day against the MCC in Abu Dhabi.
Ballance’s 105 off 210 balls marked the first century of the English summer after coming in at 0-1 in the second over before the champions, who elected to bat, slipped to 88-5 five balls after lunch.
He shared 125 inside 47 overs either side of tea with Stamford Bridge star Rhodes, who fell later agonisingly short of a maiden career hundred after sharing a tenth-wicket stand of 41 with Karl Carver to advance from 234-9 to 275.
The MCC faced a Jack Brooks maiden just before close.
Yorkshire lost three wickets quickly either side of lunch to Kent off-spinner James Tredwell before three in seven balls with the second new ball to Jake Ball and Graham Onions saw them stutter from 233-6.
"Credit to Gaz, he batted beautifully when wickets were falling around him," said all-rounder Rhodes, whose 95 came off 216 balls.
"I thought he timed his innings really well on a toughish wicket to get yourself in on.
“I was quite patient at the start, which is something I've been working on.
"Last year, I was prone to getting to 30 and 40 and giving it away. I played a couple of shots in the forties here, but then I got my head down.
“When Gaz got out, it was my job as the in batter to help nine, ten and eleven through.
“We lost Steve Patterson and Jack Brooks, but credit to Karl, he stuck around and allowed me to play the way I would in one-day cricket.”
Both Ballance, who scored a two-day friendly ton against Lancashire last week, and Rhodes were strong either side of a wicket which the latter described as “quite slow”.
“It's not taking as much turn as I thought it would do, but it's a good pitch,” he said. “You get full value once you're in, but there's always something there for the bowlers.”
After the late wickets, Rhodes refused singles in his partnership with Carver before taking three fours off Rikki Clarke in one over and hitting Tredwell over long-on for six to move into the nineties.
He was caught behind off Clarke to end his chances of a hundred on the ground where he made his first-class debut last March.
Earlier, Alex Lees, lbw for a second-ball duck, Adam Lyth, Andrew Gale, Jack Leaning and Tim Bresnan all fell cheaply.
Before leaving for the UAE, Rhodes spoke about how tough it would be for him to break into Yorkshire’s Championship team in the early stages of the season.
Ryan Sidebottom is being rested from this match and Liam Plunkett and David Willey are expected to be available after England World T20 duty.
Matthew Fisher is also in the mix despite hamstring tightness ruling him out here.
"It is all about putting runs on the board in front of Jason Gillespie, Martyn Moxon and other selectors such as Galey,” added the 21-year-old.
“If I can keep scoring volumes of runs like that, then I'm doing myself some good.”