Northants’ batsmen endured a torrid time as they were bowled out for just 151 in their first innings on day two of the Specsavers County Championship Division Two clash at Leicestershire.
On an eventful day at Grace Road, a total of 21 wickets fell, but thanks to the Foxes’ strong effort on day one which saw them close on 311 for five the home side are in the box seat with two days still to play.
Northants’ bowlers started the day well, cleaning up the final five Leicestershire wickets for just 21 runs as they were bowled out for 332, but the County were then rolled over in 46.3 overs.
Captain Mark Cosgrove’s decision not to ask Northants to bat again was a surprise, but he clearly felt the pitch might deteriorate sufficiently to make batting last a difficult prospect, however small the target.
And he may be proved right as Leicestershire lost quick wickets in their second innings too, and closed on 132 for six, a lead of 313.
Northants started the day well with Olly Stone and Ben Sanderson benefiting from bowling line and length, with Stone finishing with four for 56 and Sanderson two for 71.
Their efforts had seemingly put Northants back in the game, but Leicestershire’s bowlers picked up where their opponents left off, claiming three wickets before lunch.
Ben Duckett went leg before to Ben Raine for two, hit in front by a delivery that swung back in to the in-form left hander.
Skipper Alex Wakely never looked comfortable before losing his off-stump to the same bowler for 17, but Jake Libby had been batting well when he was unluckily caught down the leg side on 32 by wicket-keeper O’Brien in Wayne White’s first over.
The afternoon session was a procession.
Northants quickly lost former Leicestershire skipper Josh Cobb (30), who having looked in good form threw the bat at a wide delivery from Clint McKay and edged a catch behind.
Richard Levi had struggled to 19, made from 61 balls, when he too fell to a wide delivery, edging Neil Dexter’s loosener to wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien.
Dexter’s medium-pace continued to prove effective as two balls later, Steven Crook pushed hard-handed at a straight delivery and edged to gully for a duck. Rory Kleinveldt also came and went in short order, edging a Dexter out-swinger to first slip.
Stone was bowled by a Wayne White delivery which stayed low, and Azharullah and Sanderson also fell to the all-rounder, the former caught at first slip, the latter leg before.
The Foxes’ second innings batting proved equally fragile.
Horton looked a touch unfortunate to be given leg before to Kleinveldt, the ball striking the pad well above the knee roll, but Dexter was comprehensively bowled by Stone.
Sanderson then picked up three quick wickets, including that of Cosgrove leg before with a delivery which stayed low, before Niall O’Brien and Ali took the lead past 300 with a stand of 53 for the sixth wicket.
Even then there was to be drama, with Ali edging the last ball of the day from Sanderson to wicketkeeper Adam Rossington.