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By Pete Johnson
Honours were just about even at the end of day two of the Championship encounter with Derbyshire at Denby CC.
County held a first innings lead of 38 thanks to a sparkling last-wicket partnership between Anthony Ireland and Alex Wyatt, but Derbyshire had progressed to 45-0 at stumps to hold a lead of 7 going into day three.
The players took to the field with a light breeze freshening the morning air, the solar panels on the pavilion roof basking in any shafts of sunlight that peered through the high cloud.
Matt Boyce and Michael Thornely resumed the innings for Leicestershire after bad light and rain had brought a premature end to proceedings on day one.
Their partnership had taken the total to 38 when Thornely (22 from 53 balls) was bowled by Matt Higginbottom, who was to prove to have an excellent day with the ball in claiming seven wickets.
Usman Tariq joined Boyce and made a patient 10 from 43 balls before being caught behind by Hosein off Higginbottom. Shiv Thakor (0) then went lbw first ball to Higginbottom, who was bounding in with relish from the Pavilion End.
While all this was going on, Boyce was building a sound innings, soaking up the balls and slowly grinding out the runs. Boyce and Tom Wells took Leicestershire into lunch on 85-3 from 40 overs. In the 3rd over after lunch, Wells (10 from 35 balls) went lbw to Ben Cotton.
Boyce was joined by Lewis Hill and brought up his 50 (9x4) from 135 balls after 44.5 overs. A fine half-century from Boyce, who had contended with a battery of pace bowling admirably, three glorious drives through extra cover to find the rope being particularly pleasing on the eye.
Boyce (55 from 147 balls) eventually went caught at second slip by Tom Knight off Ben Cotton, leaving County at 106-5. Hill was joined by Aadil Ali (13) who in typical pugnacious fashion smote three boundaries before being trapped in front by Higginbottom, 134-6.
Hill (23) occupied the crease for 61 balls before getting a brute of a ball from Higginbottom that took the edge to be gleefully pouched by Hosein to leave County on 153-7.
Then followed a partnership of 42 between Sam Johnson and James Sykes, the highest of the innings to date. Johnson being the dominant partner, and the pair took County into tea on 195-7. Sykes (9 from 45 balls) was then bowled by Higginbottom with the second delivery with the new ball.
Johnson (38 from 79 balls) soon followed, adjudged lbw to Higginbottom. This left County on 196-9, still needing 4 runs for a second batting point. The followed a highly entertaining last-wicket partnership of 62 between Ireland and Wyatt, that not only achieved a second batting point, but bagged a third point as well when the total passed 250.
Wyatt was in a purple patch and made 31 not out from 38 balls; he hammered five fours with panache, being totally dismissive of the pace attack of Higginbottom and Cotton.
Ireland, joined the party as well with one wristy flick going for a maximum off Hickinbottom, whose exemplary figures were beginning to take a battering. The wondrous willow of Wyatt and the ingenuity of Ireland took the score to 258 before Ireland (20 from 25 balls) was caught at slip by Chesney Hughes off Marsden who had replaced Ireland and Wyatt’s 'bunny' (Higginbottom) at the Pavilion End.
Higginbottom 28-12-65-7: Cotton 28-9-72-2: Marsden 17.4-5-43-1: Cork 8-3-24-0: Turner 6-1-13-0: Knight 4-1-13-0: Hughes 1-0-2-0.
Derbyshire had 17 overs to negotiate before the end of the day, Turner (19*) and Wood (22*) safely took Derbyshire to stumps on 45, a lead of 7. Leicestershire taking 7 points to date, and Derbyshire 6 points.