Rory Kleinveldt took his first five-wicket haul of the season to put Northamptonshire on course for a maximum-points victory over Sussex at Wantage Road to revive their promotion ambitions in Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship.
Kleinveldt took 5 for 50 to dismiss Sussex for just 172 after the home side were bowled out for 426 before lunch on the second day. The follow-on was enforced and at the close, Sussex were 34 for 1, trailing by 220. It puts a huge dent in Sussex's hopes of finishing second and claiming promotion.
Northants produced a fine all-round display after they boosted their overnight 329 for 5 with a debut fifty for Luke Procter and a stand of 72 with Josh Cobb. Their lower-order was whittled out - the last five wickets went for just 25 runs in 44 balls - but the total appeared well over-par after what followed.
Kleinveldt began with a probing 10-over new ball spell, rewarded with the wicket of Angus Robson, who defended a ball into his leg stump for 33, but wasn’t seen again until after tea. When he did return, he tore into the Sussex lower-order.
Ben Brown feathered an edged through to wicketkeeper David Murphy, who received his county cap at the tea break. David Wiese and Danny Briggs were both clean bowled by deliveries which just straightened enough and Ollie Robinson belted a straight drive back at Kleinveldt who clung on for fine return catch.
The earlier work was done by Azharullah who tied down Luke Wells before he went to pull, skied the ball off the splice of the bat and was well caught by Rob Newton running back from mid-off for 14. Wells was later out pulling for the second time in the day as Sussex came out to face 14 overs before the close.
Azharullah’s second spell removed Chris Nash, who arrived in good form and counter-attacked with five boundaries, making 30 before getting a feather-edge to Murphy.
Stiaan van Zyl’s innings was initially a tortured one as he played and missed regularly and edged Procter at catchable height between third slip and gully. But he found his touch with a flowing cover drive off Procter and a well-timed flick against Azharullah. Just when he was providing some solidity for Sussex, he received a beauty from Simon Kerrigan that turned out of the footholds between bat and pad and took out leg stump.
Kerrigan, on loan from Lancashire, bowled with excellent control and also drew an outside edge from Chris Jordan that was very well held by Richard Levi diving back to his left from slip.
It was a fine performance from Northants who, in the first session of the day, claimed maximum batting bonus points for the first time this season with Procter, on-loan from Lancashire for the rest of the season, playing smartly for a debut half-century in 97 balls.
Sussex skipper Brown said: “It’s been two pretty bad days for us, we haven’t got into the game at all and now we’re up against a tough fight. Not many would have seen the pitch as a bat first yesterday but the ball got soft in a wet outfield and we just didn’t bowl well. They bowled outstandingly well, we didn’t play many poor shots but you have to find a way to compete."