Haseeb Hameed played just his second significant innings of the season to help Lancashire secure a hard-earned draw against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
Hameed was one of four half-centurions as Lancashire held on to return to the top of Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship.
Required to see out 89 overs for a draw, Alex Davies made 53 before Hameed made his return to form with 55 in 116 balls. Hameed fell after tea but Josh Bohannon, with 65 not out, and an unbeaten 53 from captain Dane Vilas saw Lancashire to a draw with six overs left.
Bohannon and Hameed played out more than 20 overs either side of tea, and when Hameed fell Vilas joined Bohannon to play out almost another 20 overs to the close.
Northants created a chance when the second new ball was taken with nine overs remaining. Vilas edged Brett Hutton to third slip but Matt Coles put a low chance down and the hosts’ final hope was extinguished.
Having been well behind for most of the match, Lancashire will be pleased to take 10 points. Northants were forced to settle for 12 but remain firmly in the promotion race with five games remaining and third-placed Derbyshire up next.
Hameed made a century in the opening match of the season at Lord’s to suggest he had rediscovered the form that brought him an England Test debut in 2016, but he had scored just 158 in 11 innings since, including a first-innings duck here.
The situation was made for Hameed just to occupy the crease. He left well, worked the bowling smartly off his pads and it was a leg-side flick through square leg against Rob Keogh’s off-spin that brought him a seventh boundary and a half-century in 109 balls.
Hameed couldn’t finish the job as after tea. He shouldered arms to Keogh and some sharp turn took out his off-stump. He had needed one moment of major fortune – a hook against Ben Sanderson was top-edged for six – but hung around to help move his side away from a tricky spot at 111-3 in the 33rd over.
That was after Hutton sent a full delivery into the pads of Rob Jones, who was lbw for 11. At that stage, Northants had high hopes of victory, having removed first-innings centurion Davies, lbw to Sanderson.
Davies made his second half-century of the game in 52 balls with 12 boundaries. He lost his opening partner Keaton Jennings in the morning after a solid first-wicket stand of 60 to Coles’ first ball of the day. Coles speared in a yorker that caught Jennings on the boot and he was given out lbw for 20.
There were few wicket-taking deliveries through the final two sessions as Bohannan, who passed 50 in 79 balls with nine fours, and Vilas, whose sixth 60 of the season was brought up in the final over, saw Lancashire comfortably to a draw.
The final day had begun with Northants pondering a declaration. They resumed with a lead of 341 and batted on for five overs, adding 49.
Coles bludgeoned two sixes and Sanderson one, which triggered the declaration at 263-9.
Lancashire return to Old Trafford next to face fourth-placed Sussex from Saturday.