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Lancashire battle back to secure draw against Northamptonshire

Lancashire battle back to secure draw against Northamptonshire

Lancashire batted out the majority of the final day at Wantage Road to secure a battling draw against Northamptonshire to return to the top of Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship.

Required to see out 89 overs for a draw, Alex Davies made 53 before Hameed made his return to form with 55 in 116 balls. Hameed fell after tea but Josh Bohannon, with 65 not out, and an unbeaten 53 from captain Dane Vilas saw Lancashire to a draw with six overs left in the match.

It was just the second time both Bohannon and Hameed had gone past 50 this season. The pair played out more than 20 overs either side of tea and when Hameed fell, Vilas joined Bohannon to play out almost another 20 overs to the close.

Northants took the game deep into the final session and created a chance when the second new ball was taken with nine overs remaining. Vilas edged Brett Hutton to third slip but Matt Coles put a low chance down and Northants’ final hope was extinguished.

Having been well behind the game for most of the match, Lancashire will be pleased to take 10 points. Northamptonshire were forced to settle for 12 points from the draw but remain firmly in the promotion race with five games remaining and third-placed Derbyshire to play on Sunday.

For much of day four, all eyes were on Hameed. He made a century in the opening match of the season at Lord’s to suggest he had rediscovered the form that brought him an England Test debut back in 2016 but another run of low scores has followed with just 158 runs in 11 innings since, including an eight-ball duck in the first-innings here.

The situation was made for Hameed’s desire just to occupy the crease. He left well, worked the bowling smartly off his pads and it was a leg-side flick through square leg against Rob Keogh’s off spin that brought him a seventh boundary and a half-century in 109 balls.

Hameed couldn’t finish the job as after tea, he shouldered arms to Keogh and some sharp turn took out his off stump. He needed one moment of major fortune with a hook against Ben Sanderson that he top-edged over long leg for six but hung around determinedly to help move his side away from a tricky spot at 111 for 3 in the 33rd over.

That was after Hutton sent a full delivery into the pads of Rob Jones, who misjudged the line and was lbw for 11. At that stage, Northants had high hopes to force victory having removed the first-innings centurion Davies for 53 - also lbw to one that nipped back from Sanderson. Davies had made a second half-century in the game in 52 balls with 12 boundaries but his dismissal removed a major obstacle for Northants.

Davies lost his opening partner Keaton Jennings in the morning session after a solid first-wicket stand of 60 to Coles’ first ball of the day. Coles speared in a yorker that caught Jennings on the boot and was given out lbw for 20 but by then, the new ball was into it’s 15th over and Lancashire were through the most testing conditions.

There were few wicket-taking deliveries through the final two sessions as the wicket slowed and the ball softened and Bohannan, who passed fifty in 79 balls with nine fours, and Vilas, whose sixth fifty of the season was brought up in the final over of play, saw Lancashire comfortably to a draw.

The final day had begun with Northants pondering a declaration. They resumed with a lead of 341 and batted on for five overs at the start of the day, adding another 49 runs. Coles bludgeoned two sixes over long-on and deep midwicket before Sanderson pulled six over midwicket to the last ball before the declaration came at 263 for 9. The thought lingered over whether it came too late.

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