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Taylor and Thakor share record partnership

Date: Wednesday 20 April 2011

Local lads James Taylor and Shiv Thakor both had days to remember as their record-breaking 330-run fifth-wicket partnership enabled Leicestershire to post 446-6 against Loughborough MCCU.

Taylor marked his Leicestershire captaincy bow with a career-best 237 - his third career double-hundred - while Thakor scored 134 on first-class debut to become Leicestershire's youngest-ever centurion.

The ebullient stand beat the previous first-class Leicestershire best for the fifth-wicket set by Ben Smith and Phil Simmons in the Championship-winning year of 1998 against Nottinghamshire at Worksop and their combined brilliance helped Leicestershire recover from an early scare.

Plucky Loughborough reduced Leicestershire to 6-3 but Taylor started the fightback with a 56-run enterprise with Wayne White (32) before he and Thakor dominated.

Thakor, who is aged just 17 years and 180 days, eclipsed Josh Cobb's effort when aged 18 years and five days at Lord's in 2008. In reaching three figures, Thakor became the first Leicestershire-born batsman to score a hundred for the County on his first-class debut, beating Maurice Tompkin's 91 scored in 1938.

Plymouth-born Peter Bowler is the other player to make a century on his full first-class debut for Leicestershire, while Dick Pougher, Peter Willey, Mike Haysman, Phil Simmons and Gregor MacMillan all made hundreds in their first first-class appearance for the County having made their debuts for other clubs. Jim Allenby also made a century in his first Championship appearance - which is a feat in itself - but he had played in a previous first-class game before making a ton against Essex.

In reply, Loughborough closed on 28-1 - some 418 runs behind - with White claiming the solitary wicket to fall as he got one through the defences of Nitesh Patel.

Earlier in the day, the team showed seven changes from the one that lost at Derbyshire last week as White returned from injury. There were also first starts of the season for Cobb and Alex Wyatt alongside debutant Thakor.

Paul Dixey was keeping wicket after impressing for the Second XI in their win against Northamptonshire last week while all-rounder Luke Radford and seamer Sam Cliff were also included. Matthew Boyce (neck), Will Jefferson (thigh) and Harry Gurney (hamstring) all missed out while a number of other players were resting.

Taylor made a good start as captain by winning the toss and electing to bat on a bright morning at Grace Road and he would have been hoping to see his fellow batsmen spend plenty of time in the middle. However, the Students' opening bowlers had a lively opening which meant Taylor was at the crease in the fourth over.

Former Leicestershire Second XI player Rob Taylor and Ollie Wilkin did the damage with some fine bowling with the new ball. Left arm seamer Taylor enticed Cobb into edging a ball through to wicket-keeper David Murphy and Jacques du Toit was then trapped leg-before by one that shaped back.

Taylor drove pleasantly through mid-off to open his account but a third wicket fell as Wilkin backed up his colleague's work. The right arm seamer, who extracted bounce and movement aplenty, got one to rise sharply and New saw the ball cannon off his arm into the stumps.

Leicestershire were struggling but the fightback was on as White looked in excellent touch in timing the ball beautifully through mid-off and extra cover for fours. Further drives square of the wicket, through extra and mid-wicket ensured White kept scoring at pace and with Taylor looking extremely secure, the pair took their alliance past 50.

White had looked at total ease throughout the innings but after Michael Turns tied the batsman down with tight bowling to a ring-field, he then had the batsman brilliantly caught by Ollie James at first slip.

Taylor continued to play fluently and found the boundary twice through mid-on in off-spinner Maurice Holmes' second over as he moved towards fifty. Thakor settled in and played a lovely off-drive and the skipper then moved to an 89-ball half-century with his sixth four.

Taylor lofted over mid-on as he went into lunch on 75 and Thakor joined him unbeaten on 17. By the interval, their stand had moved nicely to 72 and that was extended immediately after the break as Taylor played through mid-wicket for a brace and launched into another fine cover drive that raced for four.

Thakor played a similar stroke that also skipped across the lush turf and was generally playing some fine strokes either side of the wicket as milestones approached for both batsmen. Taylor was gifted his 100th run through an overthrow but he had richly deserved his century, which came from 150 balls with eleven fours.

A first half-century in Leicestershire colours then came up for Thakor from his 75th delivery; it was bought up with his eighth four. The 150-run partnership was then recorded and Thakor pulled a mighty six over mid-wicket for good measure.

The captain continued with fours through an on-drive and two sweeps when Ravi Patel returned. It needed something special to claim his wicket and although the spinner drew Taylor into a drive, visiting captain Sam Billings couldn't quite hang on after a valiant diving effort.

Taylor made the visitors pay with a flat straight six and the 200 stand swiftly followed. A well-executed reverse sweep took Taylor towards 150, which came up from his 199th delivery.

Thakor moved towards three figures with a stroke that cleared the ropes at long-on and the marathon partnership was now past 250. Taylor offered a second chance as he nicked the impressive Wilkin but Murphy couldn't hold onto a sharp opportunity standing up.

Then came Thakor's magic moment as his debut 100 came up from his 139th ball with an eleventh four; a pull through mid-wicket. The youngster also hit two sixes in a fantastic innings and by tea, the vibrant partnership had reached 269.

It moved past 300 after the break as Taylor neared another double-hundred and that landmark came courtesy of a late cut from his 260th ball. The brilliant innings contained 21 fours and a six at that point.

The record stand was beaten and Taylor then bought up another record as he passed his highest score of 207* made against Surrey at the Oval in 2009. Although Thakor fell lbw to Ravi Patel to end the duopoly, Jigar Naik took the score past 400 with a cultured drive and then smashed a couple of straight sixes as another fifty partnership came up.

Leicestershire declared on 446-6 when Taylor was caught by Turns off James' off-spin and that gave the visitors a tricky passage of play with the bat. They ended on 28-1 with David Murphy (12*) and Danny Cox (7*) the unbeaten men after White had bowled Patel.


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