Daryl Mitchell says the first hour could be crucial to Worcestershire's victory hopes on the third day of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

The home side will resume on 53-2 – still 143 in arrears – in their second innings on a deteriorating pitch after Mitchell scored 161 to steer Worcestershire to maximum batting points.

That followed on from the County also securing maximum bowling points in dismissing Northants for 238.

Mitchell told BBC Hereford-Worcester: "We've had two good days, to stick them in on the first day and bowl them out and then got off to a decent start with the bat on the first day, and then we continued in the same way on the second day.

"We've got a nice big lead on what is a deteriorating pitch so hopefully we can force home the advantage on the third day.

"It is a very difficult wicket to start on, a little bit of variable bounce which has slowly got worse as the game has gone on."

Worcestershire removed Max Holden and Alex Wakely yesterday evening to Joe Leach and Josh Tongue respectively.

Mitchell said: "To get two of their top six out is important. It was a nice start with the ball.

"I thought we bowled pretty well again, got the ball in the right areas, and hopefully with a bit of a fresher wicket again first thing in the morning, hopefully with a bit of moisture in it, we can knock over a couple early.

"The new ball is quite important. It is only 18 overs old at the moment so the first hour is vitally important.

"If we can get enough balls in the right areas, hopefully the pitch will misbehave for us and we get a couple more wickets.

"Once you get past the 30-40 over mark, the ball gets softer and it is a little easier to bat."