Northamptonshire fought back hard to stall Warwickshire’s victory push on the third day of a compelling Bob Willis Trophy tussle at Edgbaston.
Trailing by 227 on first innings, the visitors closed the third day on 317 for six – 90 ahead. Quick wickets on the final morning would still leave the home side strongly-placed for victory but Northamptonshire have put themselves right back in the game.
When, shortly after lunch, they declined to 148 for five, still 79 behind, defeat beckoned inside three days. But Charlie Thurston (96, 168 balls, 15 fours) and Adam Rossington (60 not out, 147 balls, eight fours) added 159 in 48 overs, a Northamptonshire sixth-wicket record against Warwickshire, to set up an interesting last day.
For the Bears, there was frustration after their domination of the first two days. They were hampered by the absence of England paceman Olly Stone who took the field at start of play but did not bowl before leaving as a precaution after feeling some discomfort in his side. The problem does not appear serious, as he took the drinks out to his team-mates a short time later, but no risks will be taken with a player who is firmly in England’s reckoning.
Without Stone, as the day wore on, Warwickshire’s attack looked much less potent than in the first innings, though they made strong progress at first. After Northamptonshire resumed on 19 without loss, they soon lost Emilio Gay who edged Olly Hannon-Dalby to Tim Bresnan at first slip.
The impressive Hannon-Dalby had both Ben Curran and Ricardo Vasconcelos dropped in the cordon and the pair took advantage of their reprieves to add 79 in 19 overs. Curran batted fluently for 58 (88 balls, 11 fours), his fifth first-class half-century, which arrived during a flurry of four fours in an over from Ryan Sidebottom. The 24-year-old’s hopes of advancing to a maiden century were ended in the next over when he fell lbw to captain Will Rhodes.
Northamptonshire looked solid at 135 for two at lunch but lost three wickets in the first eight overs of the afternoon session. Vasconcelos (42, 76 balls, nine fours) departed in careless fashion when he lifted Alex Thomson to short extra cover and Rob Keogh chipped Tim Bresnan loosely to point but Saif Zaib was blameless, nicking an away-swinger from Bresnan to complete a pair.
Northamptonshire looked to be hurtling towards defeat but Thurston and Rossington shored up the innings with intelligent, compact batting. Thurston reached his half-century from 92 balls with Rossington following to his from 117 in two and a half hours’ worth of true captain’s innings.
They were separated late in the day when Warwickshire had eight overs with the new ball. In the second of them, Bresnan continued his excellent debut by trapping Thurston lbw but the resolute Rossington remains to take the fight into the final day.
At the end of Day 3:
142 & 317-6 (98.0)
Northamptonshire lead Warwickshire by 90 runs with 4 wickets remaining.
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