Hosts assume control as County drop their chances

Muhammad Azharullah made the breakthrough for the County when he dismissed Alex Hales
Muhammad Azharullah made the breakthrough for the County when he dismissed Alex Hales
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Northamptonshire will be batting to claim a share of the spoils on the final day at Trent Bridge.

Any thoughts they had of opening their LV= County Championship top flight account, which may have risen when they took three early Nottinghamshire wickets before lunch, will have evaporated by the close as the home side’s middle order put them into the ascendancy.

A small advantage has been established - 259-5 is how it stands - and if a quick 100 can be added in the morning, which isn’t out of the equation, a tricky couple of sessions may be in store.

Three dropped catches of varying difficulty hardly helped the visitors’ cause but when it’s not going for you, it’s not going for you, and the County are currently down at heel.

First thing in the morning, a second batting point would’ve at the top of the agenda but both Maurice Chambers, aiming an expansive drive, and Muhammad Azharullah, hit in front by a full delivery, fell to Andy Carter in the opening 10 minutes.

That gave the Nottinghamshire top order or the Northants attack, depending on your allegiance, the opportunity to make some inroads and it was the latter who gained the initial foothold with a trio of early wickets.

Alex Hales was the first to go as, a couple of balls after pulling Azharullah into the Fox Road stand, he edged to David Sales at second slip.

Sales then collected a lobbed chance as Chambers beat Phil Jaques’ attempted pull for pace and Michael Lumb, straight after receiving a hasty blow from a sharply lifting Andrew Hall delivery, was smartly stumped by David Murphy.

That left the score at 30-3 but the combination of James Taylor, who looked in excellent touch right from the off, and Samit Patel steadied things up before the lunch break.

The opportunity to get right into the hosts presented itself in Hall’s first over after the resumption but Sales, at slip, and Ben Duckett, at cover point, contrived to let Patel off the hook in as many balls as they grassed chances.

Fifty more were added before Patel lazily chipped Chambers to cover but this didn’t stall Taylor’s progress as he unobtrusively went about his business.

There was too much width offered, by the off-colour Steven Crook in particular who had a wretched afternoon, and both he and Riki Wessels made the most of it either side of a brief rain interruption.

The former County employee, who would later go to his half century with four boundaries in one shabby Crook over, was given a big let-off on 22 when the normally reliable Hall dropped a straightforward catch at first slip off Azharullah.

Ninety-one was the amount added for the fifth wicket when James Middlebrook skidded one into Taylor’s pads as he played back but that didn’t halt the momentum which, with Wessels upping a gear, took Notts into the lead which, when rain ended play a dozen overs early, stood at 11.