Luke impresses as Northants are hit by Lancashire fightback

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An unbeaten 61 by opener Luke Wells helped Lancashire have the best of a rain-shortened second day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Northamptonshire at Emirates Old Trafford.

When the wet weather brought an early end to play with 37.5 overs still to bowl, the home side were 121 for one in reply to Northamptonshire’s 342, and this was a fine effort given that the visitors had begun the day on 302 for five, with every prospect of putting together a formidable first-innings total.

However, rather than build on the good work done by centurion Emilio Gay and Luke Procter on the first day, Northamptonshire’s later batsmen rather squandered that advantage, losing their last five wickets for 40 runs in less than 80 minutes’ play, the final four of them to the spinners, Jack Morley and Tom Hartley, for 13 runs in 28 balls.

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The first to go was Saif Zaib, who drove loosely at Tom Bailey in the third over of the morning and edged a catch to wicketkeeper Phil Salt.

Luke Wells (photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)Luke Wells (photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Luke Wells (photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

However, the spinners soon took over and nightwatchman Dom Leech was the next to be dismissed when he came down the pitch to Morley and was stumped.

Lewis McManus slog-swept Morley for a six over square leg but departed in the next over when a careless and half-hearted drive off Hartley only skied the ball to Bailey running round from mid-off.

In the next over, James Sales was bowled by a fine ball from Morley which turned sharply and hit middle stump.

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And the innings ended when Jack White gloved a catch to Salt off Hartley.

As usual, Wells and his partner Keaton Jennings launched their side’s innings in positive fashion. Both batsmen scored freely square of the wicket and the 50 partnership came up in 16 overs.

By then, though, Jennings had enjoyed the first of his two escapes when his edge off White was put down by Justin Broad at third slip when he was only on 17.

The Lancashire skipper was dropped for a second time on 42 when he gloved a short ball from Yorkshire loanee Leech onto his helmet from where it looped up and just avoided the secure grasp of Broad running in from midwicket.

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Jennings celebrated his reprieve by sharing his second century partnership of the season with Wells, and the pair had put on 114 when the former Durham opener was leg before wicket for 55 when attempting to reverse-sweep slow left-armer Zaib, the sixth bowler Procter had called upon.

Wells, who had missed few opportunities to attack the bowling, had reached his fifty off 99 balls with eight fours and he looked well set when the rain arrived.

His partner Josh Bohannon was unbeaten on three but both batsmen will have to wait until the third morning of this game for a further opportunity to chase down Northamptonshire’s first-innings score.