County Championship: Levi ton puts Northants ahead of Essex
|LV= County Championship Division Two, County Ground (day two)|
|Essex 276: Ryder 87, Browne 58; Keogh 3-35, Kleinveldt 3-59|
|Northants 397-6: Levi 157 not out, Peters 44, Bopara 2-44|
|Northants lead Essex by 121 runs|
|Essex 2 pts, Northants 3 pts|
Richard Levi struck a career-best 157 not out for Northants to put the home side in control against Essex.
The South African batsman hit 20 fours in his first century for the county to anchor the innings and give his side a lead of 121 runs at the close.
Northants began the day 43-0 and were 95-3 after Ravi Bopara took two wickets in quick succession.
But four consecutive 50-partnerships, centred around Levi's impressive knock, helped them establish control.
|Levi's long wait|
|Richard Levi passed his previous first-class best of 150 not out, made for Western Province in 2007.|
Levi is known for his powerful striking - he hit a 45-ball T20 century for South Africa in 2012 - but he showed patience to accumulate runs against the Essex bowling attack and pass his previous first-class best of 150 not out.
The visitors finished with Steven Cook 38 not out alongside him and will be looking to increase their lead on a docile wicket on day three.
Northants batsman Richard Levi:
"Any time you score a 100 is great but today, being the first one for the club it's repaid a bit of faith they've had in me, considering coming back into the side having missed three games, it was good to get a big score.
"It was a bit of a work in progress, four-day stuff has not been my forte over the years, but I've done a bit of work behind the scenes and it seems to be coming off.
"It's going to start becoming a very interesting wicket by tea-time tomorrow so the more runs we get ahead I think you'll see their heads drop so we'll try and bat once and put a lot of pressure on."
Essex bowler David Masters:
"It was hard work, we kept running in trying to bowl in good areas and the wicket was pretty flat so it's been a long day, there was half a dozen that have kept low but generally it's a pretty docile wicket.
"I think the game plan will be to bowl them out in the morning session, try and be as less as we can behind and then get out there and get out heads down and get a decent score on the board."