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by Pete Johnson
Leicestershire had a good day with the bat on the first day of the Second XI Championship match against Durham at Hinckley Town/CCA.
Leicestershire made 393-9 dec, and Durham had reached 18-0 at the close of play. The day’s batting was really a tale of two partnerships, both featuring Usman Tariq.
The left-handed pocket sized powerhouse racked up 179 runs in an innings of high quality, ably supported along the way firstly by Tom Wells, and latterly by Aadil Ali.
Matthew Boyce won the toss for County, and elected to bat under what was initially considerable cloud cover.
There was a healthy sprinkling of spectators present, with a couple of familiar faces, as always, taking refuge as near to one of the sightscreens as they could, this time at the Football Ground end of the ground.
It was also good to see that the fit again Ollie Freckingham was named in the County side after nearly two months absence through injury.
Boyce and Michael Thornely opened the batting for County, but Thornely (0) was soon to go, bowled by Matt Milnes with the score on 4. Tariq joined Boyce in what was to prove a marathon stay at the crease.
Boyce and Tariq had added 56 for the second wicket when Boyce (29 from 72 balls) was caught behind by Poynter off paceman Usman Arshad. This left County on 60-2 from 23 overs. Shiv Thakor joined Tariq, but only made 3 before becoming Arshad's second victim, again caught behind by Poynter. County now on 72-3 after 26.1 overs.
Wells joined Tariq in what was to become an innings defining partnership for County. In the third over of the partnerships one of those ‘moments’ occurred. Older people (like me), remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, younger ones, where they were when Elvis died, and Princess Diana was tragically killed, even younger ones still where they were when Germany stuck 7 past Brazil!
Well the memorable moment that occurred here was with the 2nd ball of the 26th over, SEVEN runs from one delivery, without the assistance of a no-ball. Tariq guided a ball from Milnes down towards the vacant third man area, a fielder gave chase, the batsman ran three, the throw that came in missed the keeper by a mile, and with nobody backing up the ball sped to the far side of the ground for 4 overthrows.
For a Scoring Anorak (not me I hasten to add), this would have been their Utopia, a Zenith of observance for Scoring Anoraks, a point of reference for years to come! County progressed safely to lunch, and went in on 106-3 from 32 overs.
In the afternoon session Tariq and Wells took the Durham attack to task. Tariq's 50 came up after 35.4 overs (7x4/1x7) from 101 balls with the score on 116-3. The 100 partnership came up with the last ball of the 44th over.
Wells went to his 50 from the first ball of the 45th over (6x4/1x6) from 55 balls, with the score on 155-3. Tariq meanwhile was patience personified, but interspersing his presence at the crease with occasional, if not regular boundaries.
Wells offered a difficult chance to MacLeod at first slip when he was on 89, but the Scotsman was all of a kilter and would have been disappointed to drop the catch. In the next over Tariq went to a well-deserved century (16x4/1x7) from 166 balls, with the score on 248-3 from 57.5 overs.After tea, Tariq forced the pace at every opportunity, and the rapidly developing and reliable Ali, built another partnership of high substance. Tariq moved to his 150 (22x4/1x6/1x7) from 222 balls, with the score on 321-5 from 78.2 overs.
Ali, who is quite a muscular individual, found the ropes on a number of occasions, and also clattered a maximum into the sightscreen at the Football Ground End of the ground. Ali's 50 (7x4/1x6) came up from 87 balls but was out very soon afterwards, lbw to Gavin Main for 52, leaving County on 389-6 from 93.1 overs. The duo had added 131 for the 6th wicket.
The incoming Sam Johnson (0) was then bowled first ball by Main. After 95.2 overs Tariq's wonderful innings came to an end when he was bowled by Arshad for 179 from 266 balls (26x4/1x6/1x7). It may not have rained today on Saint Swithin's Day, but it was certainly raining runs for the little maestro, who should be immensely satisfied with his innings. County declared their innings on 393-9 with Anthony Ireland 4 not out, and Alex Wyatt 0 not out.
Bowling figures: Coughlin 23.4-5-92-2: Milnes 16-3-45-1: Main 13.3-1-68-3: Arshad 17.2-2-52-3: Buckley 7-0-45-0: Morley 12-1-53-0: Pringle 6-0-22-0.
Durham had six overs to negotiate before stumps, and did so safely progressing to 18-0 at the close. Ireland and Wyatt sending down three overs each.