Northants in control at Lord's
Northamptonshire v Middlesex 311
Chaminda Vaas took 5 for 76 and Stephen Peters and Mal Loye shared an opening partnership of 158 as Second Division leaders Northamptonshire gained the upper hand against Middlesex, their closest challengers, at Lord's.
Wicketkeeper John Simpson had lifted Middlesex to a competitive total of 317 with a determined 61 off 158 balls including seven fours but Peters and Loye rode their luck against the new-ball attack of Corey Collymore and Tim Murtagh to lead Northamptonshire to 188 for 2.
Peters was the more secure of the two but he was dropped on 38 by Chris Rogers at midwicket off Steven Crook, who eventually did get his man. Peters had moved on to 75 off 146 balls with 12 fours when he got a leading edge trying to turn the ball on the leg side and Crook took a sprawling return catch.
Crook struck again in his next over when Rob White tried to hook and only succeeded in gloving a catch to Dawid Malan at first slip but Loye and Alex Wakely denied Middlesex any further success. It took Loye 19 balls to get off the mark and he drove the Middlesex bowlers, Murtagh in particular, to distraction by playing and missing with great regularity but he played some magnificent shots in between to reach 80 off 152 balls with 12 fours.
Middlesex had started the second day on 198 for 6 and added another 119, thanks mainly to the steadfast Simpson, who got his head down for almost three and a half hours and was given spirited support by Toby Roland-Jones and Murtagh.
Roland-Jones had contributed 24 to a seventh-wicket stand of 51 when he was bowled by a James Middlebrook offbreak. Crook did not get very far before he was caught at silly point off Middlebrook but Murtagh helped Simpson raise another 46 for the ninth wicket.
Murtagh had made 27 when he was leg before to Vaas, the former Sri Lanka left-arm swing bowler, who went on to claim Simpson the same way to complete exemplary figures of 5 for 76 in 26.2 overs. It was his second five-wicket haul at Lord's, his first having come in 2007 when he was playing for Middlesex.