Ball's brace keeps Nottinghamshire on course

Northamptonshire 141 and 167 for 4 (Newton 53) need 250 more runs to beat Nottinghamshire 213 and 344 for 9 dec (Wessels 116*, Patel 64)

Jake Ball runs in to bowl © Getty Images

Nottinghamshire are closing in on their seventh victory of the season after maintaining the upper hand in their Specsavers County Championship match against Northamptonshire at Trent Bridge.

Northants, set to score an unlikely 417 to topple the undefeated Division Two leaders, had reached 167 for 4 in their second innings, with Rob Newton having made 53.

Earlier, the home side had batted on for around 10 minutes before declaring their own second innings closed on 344 for 9, once Riki Wessels had been dismissed for 116.

Wessels had faced only 88 balls and hit 16 fours and four sixes in scoring his third century of the season. Azharullah claimed his wicket, giving him match figures of 8 for 136.

Play eventually got underway at around 1.25pm, after overnight and morning rain had delayed the start. Northants, aware that they were in danger of being docked points for a poor over-rate, began with the spin of Rob Keogh and with Azharullah bowling from around four paces.

Resuming on 317 for 8, Wessels and Jake Ball disrupted their plans by crashing away a number of boundaries as their stand passed three figures, a county ninth-wicket record against Northants.

The unlucky Keogh saw both Alex Wakely and Richard Gleeson spill steepling offerings to reprieve Wessels before Keogh showed them how to do it, out at deep square leg.

Murphy and Newton were largely untroubled in putting on 69 for the first Northants wicket but the introduction of Samit Patel parted them, with Murphy falling leg before wicket for 30.

Newton had a life on 21 when he was dropped in the slip cordon by Cheteshwar Pujara, off Brett Hutton.

The 27-year old but rode his good fortune to reach his 50 from 109 balls but then ballooned a sharply-lifting delivery from Ball to Hutton at fourth slip. Richard Levi went in the same over, edging behind for 4.

Hutton then pulled off another catch, a stunning diving effort, as Harry Gurney found the outside edge of Keogh’s bat, with Northants having slid from 113 for 1 to 122 for 4.

Wakeley, with 31, and Josh Cobb, who is unbeaten on 36, steadied the ship with an unbroken stand of 45, made, ironically, in the best conditions of the day. Time was called with a further 250 runs still required, a winning fourth innings figure not achieved at Trent Bridge since 1925.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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