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Niall O’Brien made a vital 88 as Leicestershire worked hard to post 269 against Gloucestershire on the first day of the LV=CC game at Grace Road.
Will Gidman took 5-46 to move to 30 LV=CC wickets in 2014, and Michael Klinger and Chris Dent negotiated a tricky five-over burst as the visitors closed on 12-0.
Angus Robson and Ned Eckersley earlier made 46 apiece in sharing 81 for the second wicket but County slipped to 127-5 before O’Brien’s intervention.
The ‘keeper was involved in three important partnerships to ensure Leicestershire put a competitive total on the board against an accurate attack.
O’Brien shared 62 for the sixth wicket with Rob Taylor (31, 38b), 38 for the seventh with Jigar Naik (10, 58b), and 32 for the eighth with Nathan Buck (15, 20b).
Both sides made one change from their previous outing as Alex Wyatt came in for the rested Anthony Ireland, and Matt Taylor replaced James Fuller.
Ramnaresh Sarwan won the toss and elected to bat first on a fine morning. Will Gidman has been in terrific form and he made the best possible start by nipping one back to remove Greg Smith’s off stump with the first ball of the game.
County regrouped as Eckersley produced a straight drive to collect four in the opening over and Robson struck Matt Taylor (20-4-97-1) through extra to get off the mark with a boundary in the 6th over.
The opener clipped and cut further fours in Liam Norwell’s second over before producing a rasping extra cover drive that raced to the fence off Will Gidman.
Robson then cut Norwell for four and three while Eckersley pulled for four to take the stand to 50. The number three batsman also picked up three through mid-wicket.
Robson drove and cut Matt Taylor for two consecutive fours and twelve runs came from the left armer’s next over. Eckersley squeezed a yorker down to fine leg before providing a delicate touch to find the cover point boundary. Robson also clipped through mid-wicket for three as the stand continued to bear fruit.
Norwell came on for a burst at the Bennett End and Robson struck down to third man as he moved within four of fifty. But the seamer struck with the last ball of his returning over as Robson nicked to Alex Gidman at first slip.
The wicket came as part of a passage where Gloucestershire were on top. Benny Howell had kept things tight before the wicket and he maintained a good line and length. Norwell (17.4-3-76-3) was threatening at the other end; Sarwan offered a sharp return catch before both he and Eckersley were beaten by jaffas.
Howell gained some reward for his endeavours by trapping Sarwan (2, 20b) leg before with one that came back. Howell’s figures at the end of that over were 8-4-4-1 – so 44 of the 48 balls sent down at that point had been dots.
Cobb used soft hands to guide Howell (15-6-27-1) for four in his next over and Leicestershire went to lunch on 93-3 after 31 overs with Eckersley looking good on 39. Cobb went on to drive for four to take the score into three figures in the third over of the afternoon session.
A beautiful drive from Eckersley found the boundary and Cobb hit Matt Taylor for three consecutive fours at the end of the 38th over. The duo looked to have settled nicely after lunch but Eckersley then fell leg before to Gidman in the next over.
Cobb (26, 57b) struck over backward point to collect a sixth four and O’Brien drove to record his first boundary. But Norwell brought one back to clip the top of Cobb’s stumps and Leicestershire were now struggling on 127-5.
O’Brien drove two successive fours in Howell’s 12th over and Rob Taylor flicked and cut a pair of consecutive boundaries in the next over, the 47th of the innings. Rob Taylor had a reprieve at the end of that over as Alex Gidman couldn’t hold on to the sharpest of first slip catches off Norwell.
Twelve came off the 49th over as Rob Taylor drove Norwell through mid-wicket for three, and O’Brien cut the next delivery to the boundary. That moved the score to 150 and O’Brien drove for four.
Klinger turned to Tom Smith (16-7-22-0) in a bid to slow the rate and he did the job with three successive maidens. But Rob Taylor smashed a couple of fours through the off side from the seamers as runs kept coming from the Bennett End.
O’Brien drove Smith with élan to record the 50 partnership with a boundary and Rob Taylor leant on a full delivery from Matt Taylor that flew past the fielder at mid-off. O’Brien cut Smith for four but Will Gidman returned to end the stand as Taylor played on.
County were 191-6 at tea with O’Brien on 35, and the left-hander hit a rare bad Smith delivery through extra cover. Will Gidman thought he had taken his fourth wicket as Naik edged but the chance went to ground at third slip.
O’Brien pulled Norwell for four as Leicestershire registered a batting point and Naik struck Smith through mid-wicket to collect four. O’Brien progressed to an important 118-ball fifty (9x4) and then drove through mid-on to take his boundary tally into double figures.
Leicestershire moved to 225-6 when the new ball was due and it was taken immediately by Will Gidman. The on-song seamer bowled Naik with the third ball of the 81st over and the wicket restored the partnership that did so well against Glamorgan in the last game.
Buck drove a four through the covers while O'Brien twice cracked through the off-side to pick up further boundaries. O’Brien then hit to the mid-wicket boundary as County collected a second batting point. O’Brien hit a three and two to move within 12 of a hundred but he was pinned in front by Matt Taylor. The gritty innings, which was so important to Leicestershire's cause, spanned 159 deliveries and included 13 fours.
Buck played a well-timed stroke through square-leg to move into double figures before Wyatt became Will Gidman’s fifth victim after edging to Geraint Jones. A nice drive for Buck brought him a third four but Norwell ended the innings by hitting his off stump.
Shreck (3-1-7-0) and Buck (2-0-4-0) produced some decent deliveries before stumps but Klinger (7*, 22b) and Dent (4*, 8b) got to stumps unscathed. Play will resume at 11am in the morning.