Willey and Murphy frustrate Hants
Hampshire 125 for 2 trail Northamptonshire 356 (Middlebrook 65) by 231 runs
David Willey and David Murphy frustrated promotion-seeking Hampshire by leading some defiant Northamptonshire tail-end resistance on another rain-interrupted day at West End.
Hampshire desperately needed a quick breakthrough when play resumed on the second day of the championship match, and failed to get it. Northants, at one stage an unhealthy 98 for 5 after being put in, recovered by putting on 258 for the last five wickets as hosts Hampshire struggled to make the most of a wicket which offered the seam bowlers plenty of help.
James Middlebrook made 65, Willey hit 54, Murphy scored 43 and there was some useful hitting by Lee Daggett in his unbeaten 26 as Northants went on to make 356. At the close, brought forward by bad light, Hampshire had responded by making 125 for 2 from 36 overs after rain had delayed the start of the day.
Northants were 170 for 5 overnight and soon lost Rob Newton to a catch at the wicket by Michael Bates off David Balcombe but Hampshire had to work hard for their next success. Middlebrook and wicketkeeper Murphy put on 85 for the seventh wicket before left arm spinner Liam Dawson breached Middlebrook's defences after an innings of 151 balls and which included ten fours.
Left arm pace bowler James Tomlinson bowled Murphy at 301 but there was no stopping Willey who threatened to overhaul a career-best 76 made earlier in the month against Yorkshire. But at 356, Willey was caught in the slips off Chris Wood after an innings which included a six off Balcombe.
Dawson bowled last man Luke Evans an over later with no further runs scored, leaving Hampshire with a big task to get back in to a match they need to win to maintain their promotion challenge. Tomlinson finished with 3 for 66 and Balcombe took 3 for 58 but Northants' recovery was complete.
Neil McKenzie and Jimmy Adams took Hampshire to 62 in the 18th over before McKenzie chased an out-swinger from Daggett and was caught behind for 31. Out-of-form Simon Katich followed at 85, playing around a delivery from Evans to be leg before but Adams and Dawson saw Hampshire through to stumps, still 231 behind and with two days remaining.
Adams was 48 not out and Dawson unbeaten with 19 but second-placed Hampshire still have plenty of work to do to overhaul their opponents' solid first innings total.