Leicestershire Foxes were on the wrong end of the conditions as Gloucestershire maintained their position at the top of Group A in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
The Foxes, who were inserted at Bristol in a game which was initially reduced to 45 overs per side because of rain, slipped to 31-4 after 7.1 overs in seamer-friendly conditions as David Payne claimed all four wickets.
A patient rebuild from Greg Smith and Shiv Thakor took the Foxes to a healthier 61-4 after 15 overs before further precipitation forced a lengthy stoppage. The game was further truncated to 25 overs so the Foxes now had to completely change tack.
In the ten remaining overs, Smith ended unbeaten on 55 (73b) and skipper Scott Styris blasted 29 from 24 balls to help the team up to 136-8 but Gloucestershire ended with a revised target of 131 following Duckworth-Lewis calculations.
The chase was reduced because D-L is based on resources - both in terms of overs remaining and wickets in hand - so the home side had been rewarded for Payne’s outstanding contribution.
But it could also be argued that Smith and Thakor had started their alliance thinking they had a further 37.5 overs to bat, so their initial approach had been affected by a perception of those very resources.
An unbroken partnership between captain Michael Klinger and all-rounder Will Gidman ensured Gloucestershire won by seven wickets with 13 balls to spare despite a terrific spell by Dan Redfern (5-0-19-2).
There is no easy way to sort things out on a stop-start day, and Duckworth-Lewis has been proved to be a highly effective method, so the Foxes will have to take it on the chin and regroup quickly given they take on Hampshire in another RL50 match tomorrow afternoon (2pm start).
When the teams were named at 11am, both sides were unchanged following their recent impressive RL50 victories against Hampshire and Essex respectively. The Foxes were desperate to have an improved performance with the bat but Payne fully exploited a pitch that had to be covered in the build-up because of rain.
The left armer extracted swing to find the edge of Niall O’Brien (0, 2b) in the second over of the game and then dismissed fellow opener Angus Robson (13, 9b) in an identical manner of dismissal at the end of his next offering.
Matthew Boyce (4, 3b) opted to offer no stroke to a delivery that came back to hit the stumps in the sixth over, and Payne continued his trend of picking up a wicket in every over when also bowling Redfern (6, 7b), the Foxes now in huge trouble on 31-4 after 7.1 overs.
Smith and Thakor were forced to exercise caution and saw off dangerman Payne, who finished his six-over spell with superb figures of 4-23, and the typically miserly Gidman (5-0-19-0). The Foxes duo had taken the score to 61 by the end of the 15th over when more rain set in.
It wasn’t until mid-afternoon that the sun broke through and when the covers had been removed umpires Peter Willey and Steve O’Shaughnessy decided to restart play at 3.45pm. With bowlers restricted to five overs from this point, Payne and Gidman were unable to return to the attack.
Leicestershire had just ten more overs to build a competitive total and that hope suffered an immediate blow as Thakor got an inside edge to the first ball after the resumption from Benny Howell (4-0-15-1) and became Roderick’s third victim, having made 11 (23b).
Styris did his best to inject some impetus, including a swept six off Jack Taylor, but he then skied Craig Miles (5-0-30-1) to deep mid-wicket. The next over saw Tom Wells (3, 5b) bowled by Taylor (5-0-43-2) and Leicestershire were 115-7.
Jigar Naik (1, 3b) fell cheaply to Taylor, but the off-spinner’s last over saw Smith strike him for 4, 6, 4, including two reverse sweeps to give his side a chance. The number three batsman’s 50 came from 71 deliveries.
Klinger and Hamish Marshall set about the reduced target with zest, putting together an opening stand of 46 inside nine overs before Marshall advanced to a wide ball from Naik (5-0-24-1) and was stumped by O'Brien for 22 (25b).
But Redfern then caused some nerves by striking twice in the 12th over. His first wicket arrived by bowling Chris Dent on the back foot for 7 (14b). After Will Tavare (4, 2b) struck his first ball to the mid-wicket boundary, he attempted a similar shot and was caught by Robson, who had just been placed as a second fielder in that region.
At 59-3, Gloucestershire needed 72 off 13 overs. But Klinger, who faced 66 balls and hit five fours, found a reliable partner in Gidman (39 not out, 30b, 6x4) and the pair saw the hosts safely home.
Other bowling figures were: Charlie Shreck 4.5-0-26-0, Anthony Ireland 3-0-27-0, Thakor 4-0-29-0, Styris 1-0-4-0.
After the game, Payne said: “It was an important toss to win. We always like to bowl when rain is about and have been talking about taking wickets up front, so I was delighted to make that contribution.”
Leicestershire Senior Coach Ben Smith said: “The biggest frustration was not putting all three disciplines together today. We bowled and fielded well, but in the conditions our batsmen needed to take more time to assess things.”