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Lancs gain upper hand against Northants

Lancs gain upper hand against Northants

Keaton Jennings and Rob Jones starred with the bat on another fruitful day for Lancashire against Northants in this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.

The pair batted through the majority of the first two sessions, compiling a third-wicket partnership of 152 to take Lancashire within reach of Northants first innings total of 230.

Agonisingly Jennings fell just three short of his century after an excellent innings while Jones followed his century in the first Championship match at Lord’s with a fine 67.

But the visitors hit back with the new ball after tea, taking three wickets in three overs to peg back Lancashire’s progress.

A Red Rose rally towards the latter part of the day, thanks to an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 67 between Dane Vilas and Tom Bailey, took Lancashire to stumps on the second day in good shape on 276-6 and a lead of 46 runs.

At the start of play Joe Burns departed early for 10 after edging a forward defensive push against left arm seamer Wood to wicketkeeper Vasconcelos.

But that was the only success enjoyed by the visitor’s attack for nearly 63 overs, although they were left to rue putting down a straightforward chance at second slip off Jones when the Lancashire youngster was on 48, Jamie Overton the unlucky bowler. Later Jennings was missed on 92 off a top edged sweep to backward short leg although Ben Sanderson, the guilty party, soon made amends with the ball by dismissing the opener for 97.

After a watchful first hour that saw just 31 runs added to the overnight total of 29-1, Jennings and Jones became more expansive with their strokeplay in the run up to lunch, reached on 112-2.

Having established a solid foundation the pair went on to bat through the afternoon with a mixture of attacking shots and determined defence to steer Lancashire to 188-2 just after tea. And it was a session that could go a long way to settling the outcome of this game on a wicket where patience is required.

Northants fought back well with the new ball, Jennings receiving a rising delivery from Sanderson that he appeared to glove to Vasconcelos, Liam Livingstone was bowled by a swinging delivery from Luke Wood who then trapped Jones lbw as three wickets fell for 10 runs.

When Overton nipped one away to find the edge of Steven Croft’s bat moments later, Lancashire were 209-6 and still 21 runs shy of the visitor’s total.

Vilas (29 not out) and Bailey (39 not out) fought back with an excellent partnership during the final 20 overs of the day.

“It’s been a tough day of cricket and quite attritional,” admitted Rob Jones.

“The way the wicket is playing if you bowl straight and at the top of the stumps it’s quite hard to score.

“There were tricky periods where me and Keats just had to battle through.

“It was good challenge. You almost have to battle with yourself at times because it can be so slow and you get scoreboard pressure because you feel like you are going nowhere.

“But on wickets like that you can get two or three balls away (for runs) and score some boundaries and the momentum is back with you.

“But you just keep trying to grind down the opposition and keep them out there as long as you can.

And Jones paid tribute to his batting partner saying: “Keats is great to bat with.

“He just says smile and enjoy the challenge! No matter what happens just focus on the next ball. Don’t worry if you bat three or four maidens out.”

Just five wickets fell during today’s play, with four of them in a cluster just after tea.  

“When we were only two down at tea we were aiming to just bat once,” admitted Jones.

“Unfortunately we lost a few wickets with the new ball. To their credit they bowled well with it.

 “But Dane and Bails batted brilliantly at the end to get us into the lead.

 “It’s a new ball wicket in that for the first 10 overs it nips around. You can take three or four wickets quickly and that could be key, especially with our bowling attack.

“Hopefully we can push on tomorrow and then make inroads into their batting with the new ball.

Ken Grime
Photos: Barry Mitchell

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