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Northamptonshire batted out for a draw on the final afternoon at Wantage Road after Leicestershire declined to offer a reasonable chase. They set the home side 415 to win in 51 overs, so Northants just played out time for a 10-point draw, closing on 118 for 1.

Leicestershire’s 11 points keeps them in touch with the promotion race, with Division Two leaders Essex to play next week at Grace Road.

Hopes were raised of a last day run chase after Leicestershire resumed 49 for 0, 177 ahead, but they made only steady progress in the morning session. Even 319 in front by lunch with 63 overs remaining, they felt the need to add a few more into the afternoon before eventually declaring 292 for 6.

Northants might have hoped for a chase to tune up for Thursday’s 50-over Cup quarter-final at home to Surrey - but the size of the chase left them with no option but to bat out for a draw, which they did only for the loss of Rob Newton, bowled by Ben Raine for 22.

The day began full of intrigue but a tedious morning session ensued. Saif Zaib, with his left-arm spin, was the only beneficiary, picking up his maiden first-class wicket by having Angus Robson caught at midwicket for 84. He also denied Paul Horton a third century of the season by a single run, sharply held by Rory Kleinveldt at slip.

Zaib in fact went on to complete a five-wicket haul as Mark Cosgrove slapped a full toss to extra-cover shortly after lunch, Mark Pettini was stumped by Rob Keogh - who took the gloves to allow David Murphy to bowl - and Neil Dexter was lbw. Zaib finished with 5 for 148 having bowled 26 overs unchanged from the Lynn Wilson End.

It was the only noteworthy performance of the day. It was thought a run chase would be agreed after Northants called in their first-innings 122 behind on the third evening. But there was no sign of a charge from Leicestershire. Only in the final overs of the morning session were shots played with any great intent, Horton and Robson swinging Zaib over long-on.

Northants only resorted to declaration bowling later in the morning when Alex Wakely and Adam Rossington sent down overs. Murphy also removed the pads and picked up a maiden first-class wicket when Ned Eckersley lifted to Alex Wakely at long-on. 

Northamptonshire coach David Ripley said: “We hoped it might have been a different set up final day with our declaration but it’s petered out in the end. We thought with other results, Leicestershire might have wanted a game here but having lost their strike bowler affected things.

“We wanted to break the good performance/rubbish performance cycle and we’ve backed the win at Swansea up here. There were a couple of chances here and we didn’t quite take them but that’s four-day cricket.”


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