Derbyshire 343 and 76-0
Northants 324 (Willey 103, Cobb 95, Taylor 3-72, Footitt 3-91)
Derbyshire lead by 95 runs
Today's play at the 3aaa County Ground mirrored that of the first, with early wickets going down before lunch, prior to a recovery being mounted by a late innings partnership. As Critchley and Taylor put on 162 for the eighth wicket yesterday, so Willey and Cobb put on 163 for the seventh today, after we had them in real trouble at lunch.
In the morning session we bowled well and caught even better, a good spell of cricket spoiled only by some no balls that we could have lived without. The seamers all took wickets and we looked a good team.
After lunch, David Willey and Josh Cobb came at us hard, but there appeared a lessening in intensity from the morning that helped them. Footitt hit the latter on the helmet, which necessitated treatment, but afterwards they played many a lusty stroke that saw the people disappear to all parts. They were always likely to, as dynamic T20 players, and we did well to eventually secure a slender 19-run lead.
Matt Critchley couldn't repeat his heroics of yesterday with the ball, but he has a nice, high action and got enough to turn and lift to cause checked and false strokes. While both batsmen lifted him for sixes, he baffled both with his googly and will look forward to bowling on the fourth day.
Ben Slater and Chesney Hughes then batted well in the final session to take the lead to 95 with two days to go. The visitors will not fancy anything over 300 on the last day, so tomorrow - especially the first session - is vital for both sides.
Northamptonshire bat low, but the ball is starting to keep low, so they will not fancy a big chase. Alex Wakely, who missed this innings with a bruised hand, is likely to bat in the second innings, but we need to set a target that gives us every chance of a second win of the season.
The groundwork has been done. Let's see if we can lay the foundations for victory tomorrow.
Postscript - once again, thanks to all those whose company I shared and enjoyed today. The day passed too quickly but there are many worse places to be than Derby in the sunshine.
Driving home tomorrow - report on tomorrow's game from home...