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Wayne Madsen played a captain’s innings as Leicestershire Foxes’ Royal London One-Day Cup campaign started with a seven-wicket defeat to Derbyshire Falcons.
The start of the game was delayed by an hour because the majority of the Derbyshire players were held up on the M1 after a fatal accident. Time is not usually made up in the group stages of this competition but because of the tragic circumstances, no overs were lost and the interval was reduced to half an hour.
Matthew Boyce (64, 83b) helped to build a platform after Josh Cobb elected to bat but the team lost momentum as soon as the batting powerplay was taken with the score on 164-3 after 35 overs.
Jigar Naik hit a career-best 36* to ensure the Foxes at least got up to a competitive score of 248-8, Mark Footitt shining for the hosts with 5-59. The left arm quickie also bowled a brute of a delivery that forced key man Cobb to retire hurt with a badly bruised thumb.
In reply, Madsen (105*, 99b) made his second RL50 century in two days and his unbroken stand of 128 with Shiv Chanderpaul (52*, 66b) ensured the Falcons eased home with 29 balls to spare. Naik followed up his good performance with the bat by being the best Foxes bowler (9.1-0-40-1).
The Foxes earlier handed a List A debut to Angus Robson while Scott Styris was also named in the side. The New Zealand international has been registered to play in the competition because Ramnaresh Sarwan is unavailable.
It would have been understandable if some of the Falcons players were not in the right frame of mind to play given the difficult morning they encountered, but the visitors named the same side that beat Hampshire in their first game yesterday.
The Foxes skipper hit the first boundary of the game in the second over off Footitt. Robson clipped and drove to the fence before Cobb then flicked through mid-wicket and smashed through wide mid-off as the Foxes moved to 26-0 after five overs.
Footitt hit back as Robson (11, 13b) edged the next ball of the innings and Wes Durston took a brilliant catch at slip given Gareth Cross dived right in front of him. Footitt was extracting bounce out of the track as well as pace – one ball took off and went miles over the head of Cross for six no-balls, while another found the top edge of Greg Smith’s bat and went very fine for four.
Cobb (20, 29b) struck Footitt through mid-off for four but the left armer responded with a lightning fast delivery that leapt from nowhere. It struck the skipper on the hand and forced him to retire hurt. That brought Boyce to the wicket and he started as he meant to go on; a delightful stroke off Taylor raced to the mid-wicket boundary.
The score was 50-1 after the mandatory powerplay, and Smith and Boyce started to develop a partnership. Boyce cut Tony Palladino for four in the 14th over before driving the same bowler to the ropes. Alex Hughes started very tightly before Smith drove and pulled two consecutive fours at the end of his third over.
Spin was introduced from both ends after the first drinks break in the form of Durston and David Wainwright (7-0-32-0). Boyce swept Durston (4-0-24-0) for four as the 50 partnership came up in the 20th over, and with the batsmen accumulating nicely, Palladino returned to bowl the 24th over. A wicket followed as Smith (36, 51b) was beaten by a direct hit from Scott Elstone at backward point.
A well-timed cut for four by Boyce at the end of the 25th took him onto 47, with the Foxes 123-2 at halfway. Styris drove the returning Hughes for four in the 27th over, and Boyce then posted a neat 63-ball 50 in the next over. Unfortunately the stand was put paid to at the end of the over, Styris (9, 12b) lbw to the economical Palladino (9-0-35-1) after shuffling across his stumps.
O’Brien pulled Taylor for the first six of the innings as 12 came from the 32nd over. The ‘keeper then survived a run out chance after slipping over, the score being 164-3 when the batting powerplay was taken after 35 overs.
O’Brien clattered Footitt’s first ball back to the mid-wicket boundary but the bowler removed anchorman Boyce with the last delivery of the 36th over as an inside edge disturbed the stumps.
The powerplay continued to hinder rather than help as O’Brien (28, 38b) was then leg before to Footitt. The Foxes had scored 19-2 from the five-over block and were now 183-5 with ten overs to go – that was effectively six wickets given Cobb’s absence.
The Falcons continued to squeeze and it took until the third ball of the 45th over to register the 200. Wells, who had taken time to play himself in, then launched the following delivery through mid-off for four. Hughes still finished with figures of 0-39 off ten, which was a fine effort.
Taylor (10-1-53-1) came on for his last over and picked up a deserved wicket as Wells lost his middle stump after stepping across in attempting to hit to the short leg-side boundary. Naik struck to the mid-wicket boundary before Ireland clubbed a huge six to put a dent in Taylor’s analysis - but the young seamer had bowled well.
The Foxes were 223-6 with three overs to go and Naik made a great connection to pull Footitt for four. However, the left-armer claimed his four-for as Ireland skied to Madsen at cover.
Naik pulled a Palladino full toss for four in the 49th over before Footitt made it five by bowling Nathan Buck (2, 4b) with a full toss. Naik struck the last ball of the innings for four, leaving the Falcons 249 to win.
Styris took over the reins with Cobb unable to field, and he was inventive as the Foxes looked for breakthroughs. But as well as losing Cobb's full batting potential, the Foxes were also left to rue the absence of their skipper's off-breaks given pace off the ball proved the most effective tactic in the Falcons innings.
Durston (30, 31b) played well against Hampshire yesterday and continued that form. The opener hit the last ball of the opening over from Charlie Shreck (7-0-32-1) for four. After Ireland (7-1-37-0) sent down a fine maiden, Durston nicked the same bowler for four in his second over. Durston then had a scare after Billy Godleman called him through for a single that wasn't on after nudging to substitute Ben Raine at backward point. The fielder was inches away from initiating a run out that would have given the Foxes a big boost given the score was on 23 when Godleman set off.
Godleman flicked Buck (10-0-60-1) for four in his first over, the 7th of the innings, while Durston hit a trio of fours as the score moved to 55-0 after nine overs. Godleman then flashed one off Ireland that just evaded Naik’s grasp at slip; to add insult to injury, the ball also ran away for four.
Shreck returned once the powerplay had finished and picked up a big wicket by taking out Durston’s middle stump with the first ball back. Buck then capitalised on the wicket after switching ends; his first delivery back almost bowled Elstone (1, 5b) and the batsman wasn’t so fortunate next ball.
Captain Madsen flicked and drove a brace of fours as he started with intent while stand-in captain Styris then had to briefly leave the field after picking up an injury of his own. Eleven runs came from the 15th over from Buck; Godleman was fortunate to see a drive squirm through Naik’s grasp and go for four while Madsen hit a glorious drive that sped through the covers.
Wells (6-0-39-0) had already bowled a couple of tidy overs when Naik was introduced, but Madsen glanced the young seamer for his fourth boundary. The stand had reached 50 by the end of the 20th over, the Falcons 113-2 at that stage.
Styris then replaced Wells and the Foxes dried up the boundaries. Naik built on a good spell as Godleman (43, 70b) was bowled as he tried to clout through the on-side. The Falcons were now 123-3 in the 24th over.
The Naik-Styris combination continued to do a tidy job but Madsen and Chanderpaul were content to push the ball around, which was sensible at that stage in proceedings. The Foxes turned to Buck given they needed a wicket but when the West Indies international deftly guided the seamer down to third man at the start of the 30th over, the target was now below three figures.
Madsen moved to a 49-ball fifty with an inside edge for four but there was nothing lucky about the next trio of fours as they raced through the covers, mid-off and extra. The second boundary took the alliance to 50, and four leg byes also helped the Falcons as they moved to 187-3 when the second drinks break was taken after 34 overs.
Styris (6-0-26-0) returned to send down the 35th over but Madsen cut to record his ninth four, and the skipper then had to take the batting powerplay. The Falcons went on to record the 200 in the 37th over, and Madsen hit three further boundaries to move into the nineties within the second set of fielding restrictions
The alliance reached 100 at the start of the 41st over and a nice drive from Madsen took him to 99. The next ball brought the single that took him to back-to-back RL50 hundreds. This fine effort came from 93 deliveries and included 13 fours.
Chanderpaul was happy to play the supporting role; his second four came off the 60th ball faced when he punched Naik over mid-wicket. The left-hander then brought up his 50 with a third boundary that also won the match for the Falcons. The Foxes next game in the competition comes at Essex Eagles on Thursday afternoon (2pm start).
* Thanks to Ed Melia for the photo of Jigar Naik.