County Championship: Emilio Gay & Karun Nair spearhead Northants recovery at Edgbaston

LV=County Championship, Edgbaston (day one):

Northamptonshire 200-5: Nair 78, Gay 77; Hannon-Dalby 3-29

Warwickshire: Yet to bat

Warwickshire 1 pt, Northants 0 pts


County Championship relegation favourites Northamptonshire showed that it is too early to write them off just yet as they rallied well on a day of mixed weather in Birmingham.

Bidding to avoid going back down to Division Two for the fourth time since two-tier cricket began in the year 2000, Northants began the day 26 points shy of safety with three games left.

But Emilio Gay (77) and India Test player Karun Nair (78) both hit half-centuries in a third-wicket stand of 147 as they recovered from 24-2 to close on 200-5 at Edgbaston.

On a day of contrasting meteorological outlooks in the second city - which began with thunderstorms forecast, lost 23 overs due to afternoon drizzle and ended in glorious sunshine - the visitors have at least given themselves hope.

The day took a turn for the worse for them when, in the final hour of the day, they slipped from 171-2 to 182-5 inside seven overs as Oliver Hannon-Dalby struck twice to get Gay and Rob Keogh, before Ed Barnard got the key scalp of Nair, but Saif Zaib and Lewis McManus saw them safely to the close.

After winning the toss and putting Northants in, all looked good for the Bears when they struck twice in the first 11 overs.

Hassan Azad slapped Chris Rushworth in his second over to point, where the recalled, fit-again Craig Miles took a smart catch.

Then the visitors lost another one when Hannon-Dalby found Luke Procter's edge and Sam Hain claimed the catch low down at second slip.

But it was to be precisely six hours before the Bears struck again.

Gay and Nair bedded down to lunch on 71-2, then were kept waiting to restart after a 50-minute rain break. A further interruption then meant that only 53 runs were added in the afternoon session.

But, when the sun came out, after tea, the two Northants batters initially made hay before that late clatter of wickets.

Hannon-Dalby found Gay's edge with a perfect away-cutter to be caught behind by Michael Burgess before Keogh, dropped third ball on 0 in the slips by Will Rhodes, then bowled him in his next over for a not very expensive nine.

In-form Barnard then got Nair when he got stuck on 78, lost concentration and edged an attempted loft to third man to wicketkeeper Burgess. But McManus (10 not out) and Zaib (six not out) did at least prevent any further damage.