All-rounder David Willey celebrated his call-up to England’s one-day squad by smashing 88 from just 79 balls and then taking a late wicket as Northamptonshire ended the third day in a dominant position at Grace Road.
When the visitors lost Rob Newton for 58 shortly after lunch, bowled by a Ben Raine delivery that seamed back to knock out the batsman’s off-stump, Northants were 220-6 and leading by just 166 with only four wickets remaining, with Leicestershire looking to have an excellent chance of securing a first championship win in 34 matches.
But Willey, initially in company with former Leicestershire batsman Josh Cobb, took the attack to the Leicestershire seamers in destructive style. Cobb, who was dropped before scoring, went on to 56 before being caught down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Niall O’Brien off Charlie Shreck, but Willey was then joined by Rory Kleinveldt in a match-changing partnership of 97 for the eighth wicket, hit off just 11.4 overs.
Kleinveldt hit seven fours and two sixes in going a half-century off 32 balls before top-edging an attempted pull at Clint McKay and being caught by Tom Wells running in from the deep midwicket.
Olly Stone, with a first class career best 28, provided solid support for Willey in a partnership of 49 for the ninth wicket. Soon afterwards, Willey, having hit 15 fours and a six, skied Shreck to third man, where Ned Eckersley held the catch.
Faced with the task of making what would be the fourth highest run chase in their history, Leicestershire quickly lost Dan Redfern, the left-hander steering a delivery from Willey straight into the hands of Cobb at backward point.
Eckersley and Angus Robson then saw the Foxes to the close, still needing another 332 runs for their first championship win since September 2012, and Northants needing another nine wickets for their first championship win since September 2013.