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Dan Redfern, Niall O’Brien and Rob Taylor all made half-centuries as Leicestershire fought hard against promotion-chasing Surrey at Grace Road.
The visitors progressed from 403-8 to 480 as Steve Davies made his highest Surrey score of 158 and Stuart Meaker posted his sixth first-class 50.
Taylor took both wickets today to end with 4-91 before sharing a vital 99 with captain O’Brien (62 not out, 131b) for the sixth wicket.
The impressive Gareth Batty (20-9-34-3) picked up two late wickets to keep his side in charge as battling County closed the second day on 303-7, still requiring 28 to avoid the follow-on.
Earlier in the day, the stand between Davies and Meaker passed 50, and Davies moved to 150 from 176 balls having gathered 22 boundaries along the way.
Meaker handled a short-pitched attack well and grew in confidence. One particular stroke raced through mid-off as Meaker moved into the thirties.
Davies edged Taylor for four at the end of the 103rd over to take the alliance into three figures. Taylor kept persevering and trapped Davies leg before in his next over as Leicestershire claimed a third bowling point.
A well-played hook brought Meaker a seventh four and took the number ten batsman through to a 134-ball half-century. Meaker then fell to Taylor for 58 as an inside edge crashed into his pad and looped up, Niall O’Brien taking the catch.
Bowling figures for Leicestershire: Shreck 34-7-119-2, Buck 27-2-125-2, Taylor 20.3-3-91-4, Freckingham 18-2-84-2, Naik 9-0-33-0.
Greg Smith and Angus Robson gave Leicestershire a solid start, with the latter finding the boundary on three occasions as the team reached 26-0 off seven overs at lunch. But both batsmen fell shortly after the interval as Surrey got on top.
Smith (2, 17b) edged Meaker to Jason Roy at second slip and although Robson picked up a brace of fours off Tremlett, he then cut the seamer to Tillakaratne Dilshan at point having made a bright 29.
Leicestershire were now a spot of bother but Eckersley picked off a sextet of boundaries as he settled quickly. Boyce hit fours down to third man and fine leg, and Eckersley cracked through the covers to take the stand to 50.
Boyce struck another four but Eckersley’s lively knock of 40 (49b) came to an end in an unfortunate manner. The batsman saw a Tim Linley delivery keep low and trap him leg before. It ended a partnership of 64 that had put Leicestershire back on track.
Boyce and Redfern both favoured the off side as they picked off a number of boundaries in a 41-run alliance for the fourth wicket. But the returning Tremlett had Boyce (28, 43b) caught behind by Gary Wilson and Leicestershire were 146-4 when O’Brien came to the wicket.
County continued to be positive in their approach; the skipper and Redfern went after Tremlett, hitting five boundaries between them in the space of three overs. O’Brien clattered a ball from Zafar Ansari to the mid-wicket boundary while a well-timed cut by Redfern off Batty went for four.
The number five batsman went to tea on 49 alongside O’Brien (24*) with Leicestershire looking in decent shape on 190-4. The break proved beneficial for Surrey, as although Redfern moved to a 51-ball 50 (10x4) with a tickle for two off Ansari, he was then caught at the wicket off Batty for 52 (56b).
It broke the stand of 47 but then came the largest partnership of the innings. Taylor drove and cut Batty to the fence as County recorded their first batting point. Taylor and O’Brien each found the ropes in Ansari’s sixth over, the 46th of the innings, as runs continued to flow.
O’Brien kept scoring freely through the off side as he moved into the forties with a couple of fours and a three. Taylor then hit a powerful stroke back at Ansari, and not only did the Surrey spinner see the ball rocket to the boards, he also had to receive treatment to his finger.
The stand passed 50 and Taylor then launched Ansari for six over mid-on to pick up a second batting point. O’Brien survived a loud appeal for caught behind off Meaker when on 49, and his half-century came off 94 balls with six fours. O’Brien then came through two further scares as Wilson and Dilshan put down difficult opportunities off Batty and Meaker respectively.
A cut for two took Taylor to 50 from 84 deliveries (4x4, 1x6) and the partnership looked destined to reach three figures. Sadly it ended one short as Taylor was bowled by the accurate Batty at the end of the 68th over.
Jigar Naik fell the same way for five at the end of the antepenultimate over before Buck cut Meaker away to take the batting points tally to three. O'Brien had previously taken a painful blow to the arm off the pacy Meaker but saw off Batty's last over.
Surrey bowling figures: Tremlett 16-0-86-2, Meaker 16-2-69-1, Linley 6-0-37-1, Roy 3-0-16-0, Batty 20-9-34-3, Ansari 11-0-51-0
* Thanks to Ed Melia for the photograph of Rob Taylor.