Hassan Azad posted an exceptional century as Northamptonshire 2nd XI were all out for 329 on Day 1 of their 4-day game against Gloucestershire 2XI.
In extremely humid conditions at Rockhampton Cricket Club, a much-changed Northamptonshire won the toss and elect to bat.
Hassan Azad was joined by Emilio Gay in opening the batting as he and some other regular 1XI players aimed to get some valuable red ball practice ahead of the brief return of the LV= Insurance County Championship next week.
It wasn’t an ideal start for Gay however, as he fell after seven balls to a top edge which was comfortably by wicketkeeper Williams Smale, leaving Northamptonshire 3/1 and under early pressure.
Justin Broad came to the crease at 3 and joined Azad as the pair aimed to build a strong partnership on a pitch offering good batting conditions.
Broad and Azad batted brilliantly together, bringing Northamptonshire to 104/1 by lunch, with Broad reaching his half century in 88 balls, which included 6 fours.
After lunch, the pair continued to build on their positive start, bringing their partnership to 142, with Azad on 70 and Broad on 57. However, Gloucestershire struck in the 39th over to end the partnership through the bowling of Luke Charlesworth as Broad was removed for a hard-earned 57 off 116 deliveries.
Rob Keogh was in at 4, but never found his rhythm and found himself bowled on 10 by a sharp inswinger from Charlesworth which found its way through his defense. Miller fell edging one through to the keeper off the bowling of Charlesworth to bring Northamptonshire to 196/4 at tea.
Gloucestershire struck again quickly after tea, when Gareth Berg was dismissed in an almost identical manner to Miller, edging through to the keeper on 16 as Northamptonshire tried to hold on to what was a positive start to the day.
Hassan Azad was still at the crease though, measured and productively going about his work and found a willing partner in Captain Harry Gouldstone as the pair aimed to steady the ship following a flurry of dismissals.
Azad and Gouldstone managed to give the 2XI some stability and after nearly four and a half hours in the middle, Azad brought up his century in the 64th over with a beautiful cover drive. The opener played some magnificent shots on the way, in an impressive display of precision hitting and clever running.
Azad was ably backed up by Gouldstone, as the pair put on a 6th wicket partnership of 79 before the Gouldstone was bowled for 40 to end what could prove an important partnership in the contest.
Gloucestershire finally got their man in the final few overs of the day as Azad departed for 146 thanks to a sharp catch at first slip off the bowling of Louie Shaw. Alex Russell, George Weldon and Bailey Wightman fell within the next eight overs after Azad’s dismissal, leaving Northamptonshire on 329 all out.
Northamptonshire were left with 6 overs to bowl in reply late in the day, Gloucestershire will head into day two 17/0, trailing by 312 runs.