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    Friday 30 January 2015

    Leicestershire and Rutland Cricket Chief Executive Wasim Khan MBE has been an extremely busy man and is loving every minute of his new job.

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Batsmen shine on day two

Niall O’Brien made a stunning maiden first-class century in Leicestershire colours as the batsmen dominated on the second day of the LV=CC game against Glamorgan.

O’Brien made a positive 133 (141b) while Josh Cobb, Rob Taylor and Jigar Naik struck half-centuries and Charlie Shreck hit a career-best 31 (24b) as Leicestershire secured maximum batting points in posting an imposing 500.

There were a number of good partnerships with O’Brien sharing 120 with Cobb (63, 97b) and 72 with Ben Raine for the fifth and sixth wicket respectively, while Naik (59*, 71b) put on 91 with Taylor (63, 77b) for the 8th and 51 for the last wicket with Shreck.

Leicestershire’s bowlers strived for breakthroughs but openers Jacques Rudolph and Gareth Rees played well in recording unbeaten half-centuries as Glamorgan closed on 126-0 from 38 overs.

All told, there were 405 runs amassed on the second day for the loss of six wickets, so the bowlers will have to be patient tomorrow as they look to make inroads.

County resumed on 221-4 with Cobb and O’Brien homing in on their fifties. O’Brien was first to the milestone from 62 balls with his fifth four, which was driven through extra, and the captain also registered his 50 with a boundary. A fine stroke down the ground - his 10th four - came from the 78th delivery faced.

A three for O’Brien brought up the 100 partnership and Cobb then hit Will Owen over mid-wicket before guiding down to third man for further fours. O’Brien drove for four as County collected a second batting point and Dean Cosker (18-4-55-1) then entered the attack from the Bennett End.

The move helped Glamorgan to apply some pressure. It reaped immediate dividends as the spinner took a terrific return catch to dismiss Cobb. Ben Raine survived a big lbw appeal from Jim Allenby (33.4-8-104-2) first up as the bowling duo continued to be highly accurate.

Wagg (17-7-107-4) picked up the baton from Allenby to bowl a couple of overs before the new ball, which was taken immediately. Many would have been content to see it off but O’Brien, who was now past his highest first-class score for Leicestershire (67), launched a wonderful counter-attack.

The ‘keeper greeted the arrival of the new cherry by driving down the ground for four and he then moved from 83 to a century in the space of just four deliveries in Owen’s comeback over. It was scintillating stuff from O'Brien, who has looked in great touch from word go this season.

O’Brien pulled to the vacant mid-wicket boundary before twice drilling through extra cover. Owen (26-5-150-1) then sent down a bouncer and O’Brien pulled handsomely over square leg to move into three figures with a maximum. The landmark came from 117 balls (10x4, 1x6).

O’Brien hooked and cut successive fours in the next over as Leicestershire picked up a third batting point and the stand passed 50 with a two from O’Brien. The on-song left-hander pulled another six later in the over as he continued to dominate.

All-rounder Raine (14, 53b) had been happy to play a sensible supporting role and he then cracked behind point to collect his first boundary. Another attempted drive proved his demise though, as Rudolph took a catch at second slip off John Glover (17-1-82-1).

Taylor produced a beautiful cover drive to pick up his first four and O’Brien produced a cut that was so precise that it just beat the fielder at point as well as splitting two off-side boundary riders. It recorded his 14th four and O’Brien was unbeaten on 133 at the interval with Leicestershire on 343-6.

Unfortunately O’Brien fell to the second ball after lunch as he pulled Wagg to Murray Goodwin in the deep. It didn’t stop the run rate as Taylor picked up a brace of off-side fours in Cosker’s opening over. Leicestershire now had a fourth batting point and Naik offered valuable support, including a nice clip off Cosker for three and a driven four off Wagg.

Runs continued to flow; Taylor picked up three consecutive fours in Cosker’s next over, Naik benefited from four overthrows off the unlucky Glover, and Taylor played a beautiful stroke down the ground off the seamer to take the stand past 50.

A Naik brace took the side to maximum batting points for the first time since the home game against Middlesex in 2010 and Taylor cut away to record an attractive 65-ball fifty (9x4). Naik picked up four through mid-off as the stand moved into the nineties but it was ended as Allenby nipped one back beautifully to bowl Taylor.

Naik cracked a nice shot over the top for four before Anthony Ireland (3, 13b) was bowled by Owen. Glamorgan were hoping the end was nigh but they were held up further.

Shreck drove a couple of fours before being dropped by substitute David Lloyd off Allenby. Naik smoked one over mid-on before registering a 59-ball half-century (6x4), while both batsmen nudged down to third man for further fours.

Shreck hit over mid-wicket and over the slips to record his highest first-class score and a great stroke down the ground brought him a sixth boundary. Another Shreck four recorded the 50 stand and the 500 before the last man was run out by a direct hit from Rees.

Tea was taken and Leicestershire had 38 overs to bowl in the final session. Rudolph opened alongside Rees in the absence of the injured Will Bragg, and the openers initially found it hard to score against a disciplined new-ball attack of Shreck (10-2-31-0) and Ireland (11-2-44-0).

It took Rudolph 21 balls to get off the mark but his patience was rewarded. After picking up a single, four nicely timed boundaries followed for the organised left-hander. Taylor (5-2-5-0) and Naik (8-2-24-0) came on first change and although the openers were generally watchful during a tidy period of bowling, Rudolph came out of his shell to launch a straight six off Naik.

A Rudolph off-drive for four took the partnership to 50 and Rees, who had gone 72 balls without a boundary, then hit three fours in the space of four deliveries. Rudolph struck Raine (4-1-16-0) through cover point for four, and two further boundaries came through Rudolph's favoured cover area. Another nice stroke, this time through mid-on, brought Rudolph a 102-ball fifty.

The four also registered the 100 partnership and Rees nicked through the slips in the next over as he closed in on his own half-century. Rudolph again found the cover boundary and Rees (53*, 105b) duly progressed to a 97-ball 50 with his seventh four.

Rudolph (63*, 125b) drove the first ball of the last over through mid-on but Naik almost had him caught at bat-pad to the next delivery. The batsman survived and Glamorgan will have been delighted to have got through the final session without loss after having a testing 121.4 overs in the field.


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