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Lumb leads Notts riposte

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Title challengers Nottinghamshire fought back strongly on the second day of their LV= County Championship Division One match against rock-bottom Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

The second-placed visitors reached 384 for eight at stumps, a first-innings lead of 124 with Michael Lumb top-scoring with 99, having taken part in two of the three century partnerships posted during the day.

Lumb faced 192 balls and hit 13 fours before edging Kyle Coetzer to wicketkeeper Adam Rossington, the 10th instance of a Notts player to fall in the nineties this season.

He shared in a stand of 133 with Riki Wessels, who made 71, and 106 with Chris Read, who fell soon after for 59.

After tea Ajmal Shahzad and Luke Fletcher, with 65 not out and 49 respectively, also profited against a tiring attack, putting on 114 for the eighth wicket as Notts enhanced their championship credentials with a display of great character.

Resuming from their overnight position of 38 for four, still 222 behind, Notts produced the perfect response as Lumb and Wessels blunted the home attack during the morning session.

The pair combined to create the county's highest fifth-wicket stand of the season, with the only scare coming from the first ball of the day as Wessels nicked Muhammad Azhar Ullah high over the slip cordon for four.

It was Azhar who eventually broke the stand, though, bowling Wessels just before lunch with a delivery that nipped back to clip the top of his off stump.

The former Northants player had scored an impressive 158 not out when the sides met at Trent Bridge earlier in the season and seemed on course for another ton as he stroked his way to an elegant fifty from 78 balls, with 10 fours.

Lumb had endured a difficult first half of the season, making a fifty only once in the championship as he battled against a niggling arm injury. Full fitness and white-ball cricket had brought about a return to form for the left-hander, culminating in his 81 at Lord's on the eve of this match.

Read, meanwhile, paced his innings beautifully, accelerating nicely to reach his fifth championship half-century of the season in 114 deliveries, with five fours and a huge six over widish long-on off James Middlebrook.

Notts had gained a narrow lead by the time Read had succumbed to a successful lbw appeal by Andrew Hall but Shahzad and Fletcher were not about to let a position of strength go to waste.

Both registered their highest scores of the campaign, with Fletcher falling just before the close.

The 25-year old was involved in some innocent by-play with Neil Wagner, the New Zealand international on debut for Northants. After sending a bouncer past the batsman's ears Wagner went down and had a word with the 6ft 6in Fletcher whose response was a smile, followed by three consecutive boundaries to leave the bowler nursing figures of 0-101 to go with his first-day duck.

Shahzad closed with Andre Adams for company and will look to strengthen Nottinghamshire's position on the third morning.

Lumb said after stumps: "I'd definitely have taken 99 at the start of the day, after the season I've had and especially in the position that we were in.

"I was pretty devastated to get out then, though. It was a tricky situation at the start so when you work that hard it was a little disappointing not to get to a hundred.

"Riki, Ready, Ajmal and Fletch all showed good fighting spirit and it's set the game up nicely for us now."

Northants head coach David Ripley added: "I thought we came out of the blocks well and put the ball in good areas. We were just looking for that edge.

"There was a little bit of playing and missing but quality batsmen aren't going to be phased by that. They kept their patience, got in and then it became difficult for us.”

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