Derbyshire 60 for 2 (Hughes 38 *) trail Northamptonshire 255 (Zaib 57, Curran 51, Hughes 4-57) for 195 races
Saif Zaib and Ben Curran reached his fifties when Northamptonshire enjoyed a good opening day against Derbyshire on Wantage Road at the Specsavers County Championship. Zaib's 57 and Curran, with 51, led Northants to 255 before Derbyshire were reduced to 60 for 2 at the close.
Curran, made his first Championship fifty in his home debut and playing his third first class game and Zaib had only registered a half-century earlier since Northants had a vision of the future after the departure of Ben Duckett.
Curran initially gave Northants a solid start by asking him to beat first. He seemed in good order with a positive defense and some attractive punches, cutting and pushing Hardus Viljoen on either side of the point. On two occasions, his positivity improved him with punches out, but he survived to lunch at 40.
He was the most fluid Northants hitter in the morning session, since Luke Procter was trapped by Tony Palladino. and Ricardo Vasconcelos matched the same bowler in third place for 3. Alex Hughes also eliminated Richard Levi, who slapped to cover extra, having defeated Hughes twice in his head for limits on his way to 25.
At lunch, Curran passed Fifty for the first time in 98 balls with eight limits, but they fell badly, making Palladino jump to the point, and the dismissal caused a terrible collapse of medium order when Northants slipped from 115 by 3 to 149 7.
Hughes bit one back to the plate Adam Rossington for a nice 35 before Josh Cobb played an abominable slap in mid. A Hughes swinger shot Brett Hutton by 16 before Viljoen produced a strong bumper that rushed debutant Charlie Thurston to catch a hook to drop by 20.
At 170 to 8, it seemed that the Northants were going to roll but Zaib played carefully and found an excellent resistance from the lower order, compiling a careful 42 with Nathan Buck for the ninth wicket.
Buck fell to a splendid third-man catch by Ravi Rampaul and the innings should have been closed for 216 when Ben Sanderson was knocked down by Gary Wilson on the second slip.
Sanderson went on to block 22 balls in total and Zaib took full advantage. He swept Viljoen with a paddle for six on a long leg before pulling the same bowler on the floor for four. A good hit by dust jacket brought another six and a third maximum – a slow sweep over Wayne Bigsen – brought a second hit bonus point and the first fifty of Zaib's summer in 83 balls.
With 85 additions for the last two terrains, Northants total of 255 was the most unexpected. And when they found two wickets in the 17 overs that Derbyshire had to face before closing, the home team took control.
Hutton caught Billy Godleman in the fold to win a lbw decision before Sanderson caught Madsen for 10 duck balls. And if Curran had Tom Lace in fourth place until the penultimate ball of the day, the day would have ended well for the home team. Instead, Hughes went on to complete a satisfying day.