Jack White and Luke Procter rattled through the Surrey top order to leave the hosts well behind the game on another shortened day at the Kia Oval.

With title rivals Essex cutting into Surrey’s 18-point lead by taking two more bonus points against Hampshire, Surrey needed a spirited response from Foakes and Overton, who made an unbeaten fifty, which took them to 158 for six when bad light and rain ended play early. They still trail by 199 but with only a day to go a draw still looks the likely outcome. 

After two rain-shortened days, Northamptonshire began day three by resuming their first innings on 351 for nine and adding just six more runs before Karun Nair, on 144 not out overnight, was caught and bowled by Tom Lawes as he tried to fashion an unorthodox deflection at a very short ball but succeeded only in lobbing it back to the bowler.

Former India Test batsman Karun, who had previously cut Lawes for his 23rd and final four, had faced 246 balls for his epic 150 – a superb innings which also included two sixes. The 20-year-old Lawes finished with five for 105, the second five-wicket haul of his highly-promising early career.

Four slips were immediately in place when Surrey, at last, started their own first innings and both Rory Burns and Dom Sibley were initially more interested in survival against the new ball than scoring runs. Ben Sanderson and Jack White bowled with menace and control in still helpful conditions, despite the appearance of blue skies for much of the morning session, and it was no surprise when wickets began to fall.

Tom Taylor had by then replaced the metronomic Sanderson at the Pavilion End and, with the last ball of his second over, the paceman straightened one from around the wicket to have left-hander Burns caught at second slip for 11.

Sibley produced one authoritative on-driven four off Taylor before edging him just short of first slip and Surrey were 43 for two when Ryan Patel, on five, tamely chipped Luke Procter’s whippy medium-pace to short extra cover.

Sai Sudharsan, the 21-year-old India A left-hander drafted in by Surrey for the Championship run-in, had made only three when, trying to let a short ball from Procter go through to the keeper, found the ball not to rise as he expected and instead it clipped the glove onto his forearm on its way through.

On 56 for three at lunch, Surrey were aiming to stabilise the innings in the afternoon session but, instead, continued to lose wickets to Northamptonshire’s seamers as White finally won an lbw appeal against Sibley on 32 and in his next over bowled Cameron Steel off stump for a duck as he played down the wrong line to a ball angled in to him.

Jordan Clark hooked Sanderson for six, having survived a perilously close call for lbw to the first ball he faced from White, but on nine he touched a fine delivery from Sanderson through to keeper Lewis McManus.

Surrey were tottering on 91 for six when rain drove the players off for nearly two hours in mid-afternoon.

But when they resumed in bright sunshine Foakes and Overton put on 78 in 17 overs in contrasting styles with Overton counter-attacking impressively with eight fours in his 52-ball half-century. Foakes accumulated more patiently with 33 in just over two hours, before bad light drove the players off at 5.15pm and heavy rain followed to end play.