Alex Hughes claimed four wickets and hit an unbeaten 38 as Derbyshire dismissed Northamptonshire for 255, before closing on 60-2 on Day One of the Specsavers County Championship match at Wantage Road.
The all-rounder bowled tightly in partnership with the experienced Tony Palladino (3-25) as the visitors ripped through the middle order, before late resistance steered Northamptonshire to a second batting bonus point.
The hosts continued their late momentum into Derbyshire’s innings and took two quick wickets, but Hughes was fluent and confident as Derbyshire recovered to pass 50 and remain in a good position.
Electing to bowl first, Palladino claimed two wickets in the opening 12 overs as Luke Procter (1) was lbw to an in-swinging delivery and Ricardo Vasconcelos (3) was caught in the cordon off a leading edge.
Richard Levi (25) attacked alongside Ben Curran, who reached a maiden first-class half-century, but the powerful Levi was caught off Hughes, the first of his four wickets.
When Curran was out to Palladino for 51, the seamer had figures of 3-10 from little over 11 overs and the hosts slipped to 115-4 as Derbyshire took an early advantage.
Hughes’ second spell was more controlled than his first and he was rewarded with three wickets for 21 runs in 13 overs after earlier being struck around the ground by Levi.
Derbyshire kept the pressure on Adam Rossington’s side and soon he was bowled for 15, before an attempted lofted drive from Josh Cobb (1) could only find Hardus Viljoen at mid-on.
Brett Hutton showed some resistance in his 16, but he missed a straight one from Hughes which held its line and Northamptonshire were 193-8 at tea.
Viljoen had his second shortly after the interval as his fellow paceman Ravi Rampaul took a good catch. But a last wicket stand of 43 between Saif Zaib (57) and Ben Sanderson (1 not out) frustrated Derbyshire and took the hosts to 255 all out to redress the balance on Day One.
The Derbyshire batsmen had 17 overs to face in the fading light and Billy Godleman was lbw to Hutton for one in the fifth and Wayne Madsen (0) fell to Sanderson in the next as Northamptonshire continued to fight back in the evening session.
Hughes joined the resolute Tom Lace (19 not out) and the pair added an unbeaten 48 to take Derbyshire to 60-2 at the close, trailing Northamptonshire by 195 runs in a balanced opening day.
Four-day cricket is back! Derbyshire host their final Specsavers County Championship match of the season against Gloucestershire from Monday 24 September. Buy your tickets in advance and save.