Northants’ batsmen put up a strong show of resistance on the third day of their LV= County Championship match against Nottinghamshire at Wantage Road on Sunday.
With Adam Rossington making 80 and Andrew Hall and Rob Keogh both passing 50 the home side reached 338 in their second innings, leaving Notts to chase 211 to maintain their title challenge.
In the one over of their second innings that was possible before stumps, the visitors were nought without loss, with nightwatchman Ajmal Shahzad seeing out the solitary David Willey over.
Shahzad had also been at the crease at the start of the day but quickly lost his final two partners, to close on 68 not out, as Nottinghamshire’s first innings ended on 388.
Rossington, again impressed with the bat, following up his first innings century with another assured knock, which lasted for 103 balls and included 13 fours and an elegantly flicked six over square-leg, off Harry Gurney.
The 21-year old had arrived at the crease in early afternoon and immediately had to negotiate a hat-trick ball after Andre Adams had removed Keogh and Ben Duckett in successive deliveries.
Keogh’s meagre return during an injury-ravaged season had seen him score just 38 runs from five innings as he arrived in the middle with his side on 29 for two and in danger of being blown away by the visitors’ attack.
Driving fluently, he put the bowlers under immediate pressure as he moved to a run-a-ball fifty just before lunch with his ninth boundary but was undone by a peach of a delivery from Adams that kissed the outside edge.
Adams, bowling off a reduced run, then removed James Middlebrook for 41 but it was to be the last success for the visitors for 26 overs as Rossington and Hall added 131 together.
Earlier, Kyle Coetzer had fallen to a sharp slip catch by Riki Wessels off Gurney just after James Kettleborough had nicked Luke Fletcher through to Chris Read.
Fletcher, who finished with figures of 4-76, took the final wicket to fall, that of Willey, who was superbly caught on the boundary by substitute fielder James Franklin.
Having been 384 for eight at the start of the day, Nottinghamshire’s first innings was wrapped up in just 12 deliveries. Willey, who had taken three wickets in his first four overs on the first evening but had then been unsuccessful in his next 20, bowled Adams to end with figures of 4-46.
Gurney was then castled by Muhammad Azhar Ullah, who finished with 3-56, leaving Shahzad unbeaten at the other end.
The match has already produced a season’s best for Northamptonshire as they went past 250 in each innings for the first time. On a pitch starting to display uneven bounce they will be scenting a maiden win of the campaign on the final day.
Notts’ first team coach and former Northants player Wayne Noon said: “We would have taken a scenario where we are set 211 on the final day.
“You can look back at different things and say we maybe could have got them out cheaper here or there, or got a few more runs but we’ve just got to put that out of your heads - we’re chasing 211, that’s the end of it and we’ve got to get on with it.
“With only one over left at the end of the day it made sense to send Ajmal in, rather than one of the batsmen.
“He’s in good form and we hope he can blunt the new ball attack and score a few runs in the morning.”