Northamptonshire 232 and 211 for 5 trail Lancashire 524 (Bohannon 175, Balderson 115, Bailey 77, White 4-99) by 81 runs
The innings continues an excellent breakout season for Balderson, who scored his maiden ton against Warwickshire in July and is currently averaging in the mid-sixties in red ball cricket.
With a destructive Tom Bailey blasting 77 off just 75 balls, Lancashire closed on 524, their highest-ever score at Wantage Road, breaking a record that had stood for 88 years. It gave the Red Rose an imposing lead of 292 and marked a remarkable comeback spearheaded yesterday by Josh Bohannon’s six-hour 175, with the last four wickets amassing a colossal 335 runs in 83.3 overs.
Sam Whiteman, in his final match of the season for Northamptonshire before he returns to Australia, played an assured innings of 54. It was his second half-century of the match, raising faint hopes Northamptonshire could save the game. His 112-ball vigil ended when he played a ball from Will Williams onto his stumps. The hosts finished on 211 for five, still needing another 81 to make Lancashire bat again tomorrow.
Lancashire began the day on 392 for seven leading by 160, but soon lost Tom Hartley (28) who edged Jack White to first slip. That brought Balderson (83 not out overnight) together with Bailey in a partnership of 68. Balderson played sweetly off his legs and hit spinner Rob Keogh over deep midwicket for six. He eventually fell caught at midwicket, top-edging a sweep off Keogh. He had faced 234 balls and struck 14 boundaries and one six.
Bailey was positive from the outset, but after he was dropped in the deep on 41 and Balderson departed a few balls later, he went on the offensive, smashing a further 35 from just 11 balls. He brought up his half-century with a six over deep midwicket off Taylor and sent the next delivery out of the ground before top-edging over the keeper to take Lancashire past 500. He finished the innings by striking Saif Zaib for consecutive sixes before he was bowled.
With Jack Blatherwick injured, Lancashire were a bowler down, but Williams, bowling a nagging line and length, almost had an early breakthrough when Emilio Gay (29) was dropped on two. The opener soon started to find some fluency, playing an exquisite cover drive for four off Bailey and stroking him elegantly through midwicket. Bailey finally won an lbw shout, although the ball appeared to have hit Gay outside the line.
Fellow opener Hassan Azad dug in, taking two off-side boundaries off Balderson and clipping Williams through midwicket, but he departed for 30 when George Bell took a good low catch at short leg off left-arm spinner Hartley, who was extracting some sharp turn. Northamptonshire were 82 for three when Williams was finally rewarded after a string of lbw appeals when Luke Procter played to leg and was trapped in front.
Whiteman was joined by Keogh in a 50-run stand either side of tea. After the interval, Keogh chanced his arm against Bailey but was rewarded with a flurry of boundaries. But on 29, he prodded uncertainly outside off-stump, Phil Salt taking a regulation slip catch to give Bailey his second wicket and leave the Steelbacks four down on 132.
Whiteman was looking increasingly confident, targeting Hartley, driving him through the cover for three boundaries, playing the reverse sweep and coming down the track to hit over long-on before he became Williams’ second victim of the day.
Saif Zaib (37*) made a scratchy start, finally finding the boundary when he cut and punched through the off-side. He showed some signs of losing patience but enjoyed moments of luck with one chip off Hartley falling just short of mid-on.
Lewis McManus was content to play the anchor role at the other end, facing 65 balls for his 17* in an unbeaten stand of 46 with Zaib to ensure the pair will still be there in the morning.