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Leicestershire lead by 243 at the halfway stage

Date: Wednesday 22 August 2012

Leicestershire produced another excellent performance to take control of the LV=CC game against second placed Hampshire at Grace Road.

After being dismissed for 356 with Shiv Thakor unbeaten on 85, Leicestershire’s seamers did a tremendous job as Hampshire were bowled out for 181.

Captain Matthew Hoggard picked up season best figures of 4-27 from 14 overs while leading wicket-taker Wayne White and Alex Wyatt claimed three apiece.

Sean Ervine’s unbeaten 58 could not save Hampshire from the follow-on but it was not enforced and County extended their lead from 175 to 243 by stumps as they closed on 68-2.

Ramnaresh Sarwan (29*), who needs a further 76 to reach 1,000 first-class runs for the season, was unbeaten alongside Ned Eckersley (14*). The duo’s stand was worth 45 by the close.

Earlier in the day, Thakor helped Leicestershire record a fourth batting point while left armer James Tomlinson, who intelligently kept switching the angle of attack, finished with a season best 5-69 from 24.3 overs.

Leicestershire resumed needing another 16 to reach 350 and Hants were looking for one wicket to claim full bowling points and another to mop up the innings. Thakor picked up five in the first over and Hoggard nudged a boundary in the next over but he was bowled by Tomlinson with six still required.

That ended a more than useful stand of 30 and Thakor and Wyatt took the team up to a fourth batting point. Wyatt was caught behind as Tomlinson completed his five-wicket bag and Thakor was unfortunately left 15 short of a maiden LV=CC century.

Michael Carberry was fortunate to see a rising Nathan Buck delivery go off his glove and over first slip for four but there was nothing fluky about two exquisite pulls off the same bowler. After moving ominously to 20 (18b, 4x4), the left hander then unwisely opted to play no stroke to Hoggard and fell leg before.

Hoggard then beat Neil McKenzie (16, 17b, 4x4) but the batsman soon settled with a lovely cover drive for four. McKenzie struck three boundaries in the 10th over through mid-on, fine leg and mid-wicket but a bowling change did the trick. Wyatt (15-4-35-3) replaced Buck and started a fine display of swing bowling by pinning him in front second ball.

Wyatt had a big appeal for caught behind off Simon Katich turned down in what was a superb first over and White found the edge of Adams with his first ball. It dropped short of third slip but the bowlers were definitely on top.

A moment of brilliance then accounted for Katich. The Australian drove powerfully to the covers and it looked for all the world as though he would pick up four but Thakor leapt and took a superb one-handed effort. County continued to call the shots as Liam Dawson (23, 71b, 2x4) edged a couple; the first landed just short of third slip and the second went between two fielders for four.

While lots was going on at the other end, captain Adams, who only faced 30 balls in the first 14 overs, had moved serenely to seven not out. The left-hander took a fair bit of strike in the next few overs to take the sting out of the Leicestershire attack and he also cut White (13-2-45-3) for four for good measure.

The score moved to 65-3 at lunch and Hoggard made a crucial breakthrough by removing Adams’ middle stump. Hoggard’s counterpart has a habit of sticking around so Leicestershire would have been hugely boosted by the removal of the visitors’ anchorman.

Ervine went about his work in an unfussy manner and he got off the mark with a cover driven four. The left-hander then punched through the leg-side before Dawson recorded his second boundary with a stylish cover drive. The duo were playing well but just as a stand was emerging, the batsman became Wyatt’s third victim as he was snared lbw.

Ervine cut for four as the score moved into three figures but he lost another two partners in the space of an over as leading wicket-taker White struck. He bowled keeper Michael Bates, who hung around but did not get off the mark, before trapping Chris Wood lbw second ball to leave the visitors on 110-7.

Hants were in trouble and it could have been worse as Kabir nicked Wyatt, Will Jones just failing to cling on to a sharp chance at second slip. However, the batsman fell shortly afterwards as White, who was bowling with menace from the Bennett End, nipped one through Kabir’s defences. The ball clipped the top of middle stump and Hants were 131-8.

Number ten Balcombe smashed three boundaries through the off-side as the score reached 150 and the number ten also glanced off his pads to the ropes. Ervine moved to a risk-free 70-ball fifty that included four boundaries as the alliance continued to frustrate.

Balcombe played a terrific sweep to the ropes as Jones entered the attack and he then received a life when the leg-spinner was replaced by Josh Cobb for the pre-tea over. The off-spinner found the edge but Eckersley could not grasp the opportunity and the pair brought up the 50-run stand with the final ball before tea.

Hampshire went in on 181-8 and a couple of heavy showers came to reduce the day by three overs. The break did Leicestershire the power of good as Hoggard bowled Balcombe and then had Tomlinson caught by Eckersley in the first over. The team decided to bat again and there were 26 overs left in the day.

Jones and Michael Thornely looked to lay the foundations for the second innings and Jones collected the first boundary in the 7th over. Thornely then found the vacant third man boundary but both men fell in quick succession.

Thornely departed to the last ball of the 10th over after edging Tomlinson to McKenzie in the gully and Jones then pulled Balcombe to Ervine at mid-wicket. The team had slipped from 20-0 to 23-2 before Eckersley and Sarwan guided the team to stumps.

Sarwan hit a four through extra as he moved beyond 900 LV=CC runs for the campaign and the batsman then hit down to fine leg. Sarwan thrice hit drives through the leg-side to the fence as he took 12 from the 22nd over while Eckersley twice hit through the off-side to collect fours in the penultimate over. All in all, it was a superb day for Leicestershire, who will now look to bat Hampshire out of the game.


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