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Final could go to the wire

Date: Thursday 06 September 2012

Fifteen wickets fell on the third day of the Second XI Championship Final between Leicestershire and Kent to set up an exciting finale at Grace Road.

Kent looked to be on course for the first innings advantage, the deciding factor in a drawn final, when on 347-7 in reply to County’s 360. But the visitors were bowled out for 355 as Jigar Naik (19- 4-51-4) took the final three wickets.

Kent hauled themselves back into the game as Leicestershire slipped to 169-9 but a last-wicket stand of exactly 50 between centurion Greg Smith (118*, 174b, 18x4) and Nathan Buck (16, 61b, 3x4) set the visitors a testing 225 to win.

Buck then followed up his good work with the bat by dismissing the openers. Daniel Bell-Drummond was snared lbw while Akhil Patel was caught by Paul Dixey.

Ben Harmison (17*, 25b, 3x4) and Sam Billings (23*, 23b, 5x4) took Kent to 45-2 at stumps, so County need eight wickets and Kent another 180 runs to lift the trophy.

Kent resumed on 313-7, requiring 48 to take the first-innings lead. Nathan Buck and Michael Thornely opened the bowling but Chris Piesley (52, 112b, 3x4) and Calum Haggett (19, 38b, 4x4) fought gamely.

Naik came on from the Pavilion End with the score having advanced to 334-7 after six overs of play. Piesley went to through to a superb 106-ball 50 but there was a key breakthrough with the score on 347 as Haggett nicked one that bounced from Naik to Paul Dixey.

That ended the well-compiled 39-run stand and Naik then took a second wicket by trapping Piesley lbw on the back foot. Captain Simon Cook cracked a four to bring his side to within one blow of taking the lead but he drove uppishly towards mid-off and naik dived to his left to take a great catch.

Thornely was lbw offering no shot to Haggett (13-1-50-4) early in the innings but Smith played a tremendous innings and Will Jones (19, 41b) was a good foil. Jones was generally watchful while Smith latched on to anything loose as he struck five early boundaries.

However, Ivan Thomas (15-2-46-3) found Jones’ edge and then trapped Lewis Hill to reduce County to 58-3 and it was game on. Smith and Nathan Hawkes (28, 53b, 4x4) regrouped sensibly and took the score beyond 100 after lunch.

Their alliance passed 50 and Smith then moved to his half-century from just 44 balls with a stroke down to third man. Leicestershire were looking in good shape but Smith lost several partners in a short space of time.

Hawkes was leg-before to Cook, skipper Rob Taylor was caught by Ben Harmison at slip in Jack Laraman’s first over after making a bright 13 and Tom Wells and Dixey were leg-before to Haggett.

Naik, who was hampered by a knee injury picked up while taking the catch that ended the Kent innings, lost his middle stump to Thomas. James Sykes saw out 18 balls while Smith was unbeaten on 86 and County moved to 168-8 at tea.

The left-hander became Haggett’s fourth victim with the score on 169 as he was bowled in the over after the break. Buck hung around alongside Smith and the batsman moved into three figures from his 137th ball, the innings including 14 fours at that stage.

Buck landed a crucial psychological blow as he swept for four to take the lead beyond 200 and the duo went on to take their stand to 50. Buck then nicked Adam Ball to Billings to end the innings but the duo had done a terrific job.

Kent had 11 overs to bat on the third evening and Bell-Drummond fell to the third ball, pinned lbw by the on-song Buck. The seamer then enticed Patel into a loose drive and Kent were 15-2 in the 5th.

Buck and Robbie Williams continued to threaten but Billings played some shots and Kent got through without further loss to set up a cracking last day.


Kent 1st inns: (overnight 313-7)

Piesley lbw Naik 52

Haggett c Dixey b Naik 19

Cook c and b Naik 6

Thomas not out 0

Extras 29

Total 355

Day 3 bowlers:

Buck 23-4-55-2

Williams 19-2-66-0

Naik 19-4-51-4

Thornely 12-3-33-2

Leicestershire 2nd inns:

Jones c Billings b Thomas 19

Thornely lbw Haggett 2

Smith not out 108

Hill lbw Thomas 0

Hawkes lbw Cook 16

Taylor c Harmison b Laraman 13

Wells lbw Haggett 0

Dixey lbw Haggett 1

Naik b Thomas 2

Sykes b Haggett 0

Buck c Billings b Ball 16

Extras 20

Total 219

Thomas 15-2-46-3

Haggett 13-1-50-4

Cook 10-1-50-1

Ball 14.5-4-36-1

Laraman 14-4-23-1

Cowdrey 2-1-1-0

Piesley 1-0-1-0

Kent 2nd inns:

Bell-Drummond lbw Buck 2

Patel c Dixey b Buck 3

Harmison not out 17

Billings not out 23

Extras 0

Total 45-2 (need a further 180)

Buck 6-1-23-2

Williams 4-0-10-0

Thornely 1-0-12-0


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