Jos Buttler and Tom Smith’s unbroken 114-run stand steered Lancashire to LV=County Championship stability as the visitors reached 244 for five on day two at Northamptonshire.
Buttler and Smith’s sixth-wicket stand staved off a second-straight batting collapse for Lancashire, with the Division One clash now back in the balance.
Buttler fired an unbeaten 66 from 94 balls, while Smith eased to 44 from 72 deliveries as Lancashire recovered from 130 for five in their second innings.
Barring severe weather interruptions this contest is headed for a result: Lancashire have Buttler and Smith to thank for saving the clash, and the pairing will aim to pick up where they left off on Tuesday morning as they attempt to add to a lead which stands at 199.
Northamptonshire resumed on 133 for eight after a testing first day at the crease that also included Lancashire’s first innings effort of 119.
The hosts were only able to add 31 more runs before they were back in the pavilion, Smith doing the damage.
First he trapped Olly Stone leg before for 15, before removing top-scorer Matthew Spriegel, caught behind by Buttler for an obdurate 62 from 183 balls.
Lancashire’s need for early stability was undermined by Luis Reece’s departure for just 10 runs with the visitors on 29.
Azharullah forced the breakthrough, Reece trudging back to the pavilion caught by Steven Crook.
Lancashire had just two more runs on the board when Andrew Hall trapped Andrea Agathangelou leg before without score.
Paul Horton and Ashwell Prince fought manfully to rescue the innings, posting a 78-run partnership - but neither man could push past their personal half-century.
First Prince was stumped by David Murphy off Hall’s bowling for 47 from 89 balls, and then Luke Procter was run out by Rob Newton.
Just as Horton probably started to think he had avoided the carnage, he too dropped short of his 50.
Hall claimed his second leg-before victim of the innings, with Horton’s 48 coming in 145 balls and lasting more than three hours.
At 130 for five Lancashire’s second innings and the contest hung in the balance but Buttler and Smith’s anchoring partnership has raised hopes for improvements ahead.