Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley said his side had a point to prove against Lancashire as they go into the final day at Wantage Road looking to secure a draw.
The hosts closed Day Three on 42/2, still seven runs adrift of Lancashire after Peter Siddle’s 89 had boosted the visitors from 221/6, while Ashwell Prince turned his unbeaten overnight century into 153 before falling.
Northants have lost their last four encounters against the Red Rose, including an innings and 200 run defeat at Old Trafford last season, and if they can come away with a share of the spoils, with rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon, Ripley admitted it would be a good result.
“We haven’t gone very well against Lancashire in the last couple of seasons, bit of an understatement to be honest,” he said. “So we had something to prove, to ourselves and them that they’re not going to come here and boss us.
“I think we’ve shown we can do that, we’ve had our moments to really grab the game, more so when we got that sixth wicket today but we couldn’t push on from that, they really dented us and played well and it’s been a fairly even three days.
“It was an important little partnership between Stephen [Peters] and Rob [Keogh], couple of early wickets and bit of momentum it was a difficult session for us, they could come and give it everything so I think it was important we got through only two down.
“We’ve still got to have a good half hour tomorrow morning to hopefully get us the points for the draw, a high scoring draw against Lancashire come the end of the day might not be a bad result for us.
“Our two home games are Lancashire and Surrey, and they’re favourites for promotion so it’s kind of in our thoughts if we bat well on what will be goodish pitches, high scoring draws could easily be a good result against them”
Rory Kleinveldt took 5/99 in Lancashire’s innings, following his four wickets in the second innings at Leicester last week, and after a difficult opening game to the season Ripley was delighted to see him take an 11th first class five wicket haul.
The South African is a rarity as an overseas player available for the entire campaign, and Ripley is confident he can play a major role.
“I’ve been really pleased because he’s come over, he really wants to do well he’s a smashing lad, he’s got on very well in the dressing room, a popular figure already, a bit of a gentle giant he is and a skilful bowler.
“We thought he’d bowl well in English conditions and he bowled well here, he bowled well at Leicestershire, was maybe a bit rusty in the first game getting used to the ball we use and English conditions but we see him being a good attribute for us throughout the season.”
Lancashire’s overseas bowler Siddle was also the visitor’s headline performer, but with bat rather than ball, as he hit a composed 89, having come in the fifth over of the day after Lancashire had lost two early wickets to fall to 221/6, at that point still 166 runs behind.
However, his highest domestic first-class score, his only century coming for Australia A against Scotland in a tour match in 2013, and Ashwell Prince’s seventh wicket stand of exactly 100 rescued Lancashire, with Siddle sharing another useful eighth wicket partnership of 77 with Tom Bailey.
Prince’s was final dismissed on 153, to end a staggering run of 410 runs and 13 hours and 24 minutes at the wicket against Northants, following his unbeaten 257 in that Old Trafford victory last season.
Siddle said they still harbour hopes of victory on the final day, but admitted it will be tough on a wicket offering little for the bowlers.
“Hopefully the weather stays nice for us tomorrow and the wind cuts down a little bit so it’s not too bad,” he said. “Another couple of early wickets tomorrow morning will put a bit more pressure on them, but just see how we go first thing.
“It’s going to be hard work, just got to be patient, the wicket’s not offering up much so not much we can do, just bowl good areas and see what happens.
“It was good fun [his 89], nice to spend some time out there, was a bit windy and cold so I didn’t want to bowl in it so I thought if I batted longer it would reduce the overs.
“I didn’t expect to be out there so soon this but to bat with [Prince], he’s a class player, he showed that again today and got us into a good position and we were lucky enough to get some good partnerships along the way to the finish and get us to a nice total.
“I think that was our plan to bat as long as we can, see how points we get, to finish with a 50-run lead I think from where we were at certain positions of the game very happy with the finish.”