Newton and Middlebrook lead fightback

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Rob Newton and James Middlebrook began an impressive Northamptonshire riposte at the Ageas Bowl after Hampshire had threatened to get on top in the LV= County Championship Division Two match.

Only 48 overs were possible due to morning rain, with the visitors reaching 170 for five after Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams decided to field on a green wicket that helped his seamers early on.

Niall O’Brien was first to go, chasing an outswinger from left-arm paceman James Tomlinson and giving wicketkeeper Michael Bates an easy catch.

James Middlebrook

Rob Newton and James Middlebrook, pictured, led Northants' solid fightback after Hampshire had taken control at the Ageas Bowl

From that moment, Northants went through a difficult period and slumped to 98 for five before Newton and Middlebrook began the rescue effort with a defiant late partnership.

The experienced second-wicket pair of David Sales and Stephen Peters took the score to 59 before David Balcombe, another bowler for whom the conditions were ideal, bowled the former.

Peters was next to go; the opener was held at slip by Liam Dawson off Chris Wood for 47 as three wickets fell in four overs.

Alex Wakely followed him back to the dressing room after edging Balcombe to Adams in the slips and Tomlinson returned to remove Andrew Hall in similar fashion.

Yet Newton and Middlebrook came together and, despite some uneasy moments, managed to survive until stumps.

The former struck a six off Sean Ervine and six fours in his unbeaten 46 while the more circumspect Middlebrook was 26 not out.

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