Lancashire's hopes fade as Swann dismisses Law

Lancashire 214-6 v Northamptonshire 357
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The Independent Online

Graeme Swann took three wickets as Northamptonshire continued to enjoy the better of proceedings on the third day of their County Championship game against Lancashire here yesterday.

The home team ended the day on 214 for 6 in reply to the visiting side's first innings of 357, still trailing by 143 runs. Swann broke an opening partnership of 76 between Iain Sutcliffe and Mark Chilton when he trapped Sutcliffe lbw for 48. He then claimed the prize wicket ofStuart Law for just three.

After Dinesh Mongia (18) was caught at mid-off shortly after tea, Lancashire struggled to reach their follow-on target of 208. But useful innings by Dominic Cork (46 not out), Warren Hegg (30) and Steven Crook (20 not out) helped the home side pass that and removed the most likely chance of a result in a match affected by the weather.

Usman Afzaal was the other star for Northamptonshire as he moved from his overnight 83 to 133 not out. At one stage it looked like he might be stranded short of a century as Gary Keedy ran through the lower order. The left-arm spinner took four wickets to reduce Northamptonshire to 284 for 9.

When the ninth wicket fell Afzaal was on 99 butSteffan Jones saw him pass the landmark. After reaching his century Afzaal pulled a six off John Wood then crashed him for another boundary as Lancashire struggled to break the final pair. Hegg took the new ball but failed to claim the last wicket. Jones hit five fours in his 35 from 46 balls before Mongia had him caught at silly point.

Mongiainjured a leg during his second spell and was sent to hospital for a check.

* Greg Blewett, the former Australian batsman, is set to sign for Surrey in time for the Twenty20 Cup. He will replace Saqlain Mushtaq, the Pakistani off-spinner, who is injured.

* Fifteen of Zimbabwe's rebel cricketers, who boycotted after the sacking of captain Heath Streak, will tour England next month to play friendlies against club sides. Matches have been confirmed against celebrity side Lashings and a Zimbabwe XI at Wimbledon CC on 14 and 16 July.