NORTHAMPTONSHIRE have assumed control of their clash with Gloucestershire after a second straight day in the ascendancy.
The visitors still need 106 to avoid batting again and they will have to lift their game up a couple of levels if they are to get back into the contest.
While they stuck to their task gamely with the ball, they were found wanting once it came to their turn to bat and a tricky couple of days now awaits.
When play resumed, the hosts will have had their eyes on something in the region of 500 but that thought will have disappeared once Andrew Hall, David Murphy and Kyle Coetzer had all departed in the first hour.
Coetzer’s dismissal four short of three figures, pulling a long-hop to deep square leg, effectively prevented any chance of acceleration and when David Willey had his stumps rattled, the innings lost all sense of direction.
To muster up just over 100 more in a fraction over 50 overs indicated a lack of urgency and the morning session – 64 runs in 29.4 overs – would’ve made watching paint dry seem exciting.
From a score of 220-1 at tea on the first day, to only secure three bonus points was a touch sloppy but if the intention was to bat time regardless of how many were accumulated then the obstinacy served it’s purpose.
And this was evident as soon as the visitors started their reply.
David Burton, with the first ball of his second over, removed two of the flat-footed Benny Howell’s stumps and there was further new ball success as both Kane Williamson, inside edging onto his leg stump, and Alex Gidman, well caught by Hall at first slip, fell to Willey.
There was a contrast in the opening bowler’s efforts with Burton dishing up the odd decent delivery among plenty worth hitting and Willey providing evidence of his increasing maturity with hardly any dross at all.
If the morning and afternoon sessions were for the purist rather than those seeking to be entertained, their evening counterpart provided more in the way of life.
Both Hamish Marshall and Chris Dent were prepared to play their shots and the scoreboard rattled along at the relatively express pace in excess of four-an-over.
Dent’s promising stint came to an end when he was caught by a diving Stephen Peters at cover off Lee Daggett and Ian Cockbain found the same fielder, this time at first slip, off Hall.
Will Gidman was then yorked by Hall as defence became the order of the last few overs. These were successfully negotiated by Marshall and Jon Batty but the pair have it all left to do when they return.