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Good start for Leicestershire

Leicestershire’s batsmen got stuck in as the team posted 333-9 on the second day of the LV=CC game at Kent.

County had a great platform on 132-1 with opener Matthew Boyce (68, 137b) in good touch before Kent hit back during the afternoon.

Jigar Naik (41*, 85b) and Anthony Ireland (52, 79b) then showed the spirit in the camp by adding a crucial 85 for the ninth wicket.

It was the highest partnership of the innings and a maiden first-class half-century for Ireland, who hit two fours and four sixes along the way.

After the first day washout, everybody was delighted to see a blue sky at Canterbury this morning.

Smith and Boyce opened the innings with Angus Robson given the number four position. The duo showed good application against a tricky new ball spell.

Smith opened the scoring for the season by pushing Doug Bollinger (21-2-100-2) through mid-wicket for a couple and the first boundary came when the right-hander cut former teammate Robbie Joseph (11-4-24-0) through gully.

Boyce struck over the cordon to open his boundary account and there was a change after 10 overs as Darren Stevens (24-8-46-3) formed an ex-Leicestershire attack alongside Joseph.

Runs started to come after a watchful start as nine came from the 11th over through four byes and a Boyce boundary. Smith then collected his second four as Bollinger re-entered the attack and Boyce picked off Stevens through mid-wicket.

Smith nicked and pulled consecutive fours and a cover drive from Boyce registered the 50 partnership. Smith (24, 65b) was then leg before to Stevens without further addition to the score.

Boyce produced a glorious cover drive to pick up his sixth boundary and Ned Eckersley scored briskly. Although last season’s top-scorer was a tad fortunate when an edge off Mitch Claydon couldn;t be taken at second slip, an authentic off-drive followed to record another four.

Another nice stroke from Eckersley found the fence as Leicestershire went to lunch on 86-1 with Boyce on 32 and Eckersley 21. The afternoon session started well as a couple of Boyce fours took him into the forties. A leg bye moved into three figures as well as registering the 50 partnership.

Boyce pulled through square leg and produced an off-drive for his 9th and 10th fours as he moved to a 109-ball half-century. Things were looking comfortable as the stand moved to 81 but Kent then had a purple patch.

Number three Eckersley made his way to 32 (64b) before being caught by keeper Sam Billings off Claydon (21-3-93-1), while Boyce saw his off-stump knocked back by the ever-accurate Stevens.

Captain Josh Cobb then nicked Stevens to Billings as County lost a third wicket for the addition of 14 runs in the space of 28 deliveries, while Robson survived a big caught behind appeal as the former Leicestershire man continued to cause problems.

County needed a period of consolidation but there were three further wickets before the tea interval. Niall O’Brien hit a couple of flowing fours but partner Robson (15, 36b) was lbw to off-spinner Adam Riley.

O’Brien continued to play some good strokes, including a well-timed drive through mid-wicket, before he fell leg before to Bollinger for an attractive 32 (51b). Ben Raine (6, 13b) was then trapped lbw by Riley (19-5-52-3) and Leicestershire were 198-7.

Rob Taylor had already found the fence before Raine’s dismissal and two more boundaries from the in-form left-hander helped Leicestershire move to 208-7 at the interval.

Taylor hit another two fours as he moved to a quickfire 20 after tea but Bollinger bowled a decent delivery and the all-rounder fended the ball back to the bowler.

Naik and Ireland then played brilliantly, with Ireland planting a straight six off Riley and Naik hitting a lovely stroke down the ground to pick up four. A brace from Ireland got Leicestershire to the 250 mark.

Stevens and Claydon took the new ball but Ireland hit a couple of fours as the stand reached 50. Ireland was now on 30, which represented his highest first-class score. Stevens had to leave the field with injury and a powerful shot from Ireland registered his second maximum, this time off Bollinger.

A cracking pull off Bollinger brought Ireland a third six and Naik cracked Riley over extra to record a third batting point. Ireland struck Riley over mid-on to move to an important fifty with his fourth six (78b) but he fell to the next ball in an attempt to hit another maximum, Ben Harmison taking the catch at long-on.

Charlie Shreck (18*, 17b) received a warm welcome on his return to the Spitfire Ground and he went on to hit three fours. Naik also pulled a fifth four of his valuable innings and the stand was worth 24 at stumps, with 17 needed for a fourth batting point.

 
 

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