Nottinghamshire remain on course for an immediate return to top flight cricket after defeating Northamptonshire by 163 runs on the final day of their Specsavers County Championship fixture at Trent Bridge.
The Division Two leaders needed just over an hour to take the final five Northants wickets (Adam Rossington was unable to bat due to the thumb injury he sustained on the second day).
Samit Patel closed out the contest, finishing with three for 17 and Jake Ball picked up three for 86.
Resuming on 167 for four, after they had added an unbroken 45 for the fifth wicket in the gloomy conditions of the previous evening, Alex Wakeley and Josh Cobb were parted in just the second over of the day.
Wakeley, having advanced his score to 37, pushed firmly at Brett Hutton and nicked firmly through to Chris Read. The same combination accounted for Rory Kleinveldt four overs later, although the South African all-rounder, who made 12, was swishing vigorously towards extra cover.
Read’s third catch of the morning saw off Cobb, for 38, with Ball adding to the two wickets he grabbed on the third day.
Azharullah decided to make the most of a rare opportunity to throw the bat and hit five fours in making 23 but he then miscued Samit Patel high to Cheteshwar Pujara at cover.
Ben Sanderson, batting with a hamstring injury and using Rob Keogh as his runner, made an enterprising 16 not out but the innings ended when Richard Gleeson, who scored 21, clubbed Patel into the safe hands of Riki Wessels at mid off.
The outcome may have done irreparable damage to Northamptonshire’s promotion hopes, with them losing points over the four days of their fixture.
Having claimed just three bonus points, their tardy over-rate of minus five left them a couple of points in debit, ground they will hope to make back when they face in-form Sussex at Wantage Road next week.
Notts, gained another 20 points and remain unbeaten at the top of the Division Two table, ahead of next week’s clash at home to second-placed Worcestershire.