Scott Styris had a dream start to his tenure as captain as Leicestershire Foxes landed a stunning 34-run win in the Royal London One-Day Cup against Essex Eagles at Chelmsford.
Styris made an unbeaten 44 to ensure the Foxes got up to 142 on a tricky surface, and his bowlers then did a remarkable job in dismissing a strong Eagles side for 108.
Essex had to face a tricky eight-over period before the interval given the Foxes were bowled out inside 41 overs, and they would have been hopeful of a solid start given their superb one-day batting form in 2014.
Anthony Ireland (8-1-31-4) had other ideas and took all of the wickets to fall as Essex had a torrid time in reaching 29-4.
Fellow experienced seamer Charlie Shreck got rid of in-form Ravi Bopara three balls after the break, and he and Shiv Thakor, ended with three wickets apiece as the Foxes got off the mark in the RL50.
Styris continued his excellent game in the field. The New Zealand all-rounder made intelligent bowling and fielding changes, bowled three overs for just five runs and took three catches, including a fine grab to end the game.
Leicestershire Foxes showed two changes to the side that lost to Derbyshire Falcons. The Foxes were without injured captain Josh Cobb and also elected to name an extra batsman in the side, so Nathan Buck missed out on this occasion.
Dan Redfern and Thakor, in for his first competitive First XI game of the season following injury, were brought in – and both were to play important roles in the victory.
Graham Napier, who took the last four Foxes wickets to fall to finish with 5-43, started the decline with the first wicket of the innings when he had Niall O'Brien (2) caught off a glove by James Foster.
Angus Robson (28, 38b) and Greg Smith (20, 26b) then composed a partnership worth 30 in six overs but both fell to left-arm spinner Tim Phillips. Smith was bowled before Robson was trapped in front by Phillips, who collected 2-30 from his allocation.
Matthew Boyce (2) and Shiv Thakor (1) were both victims of the evergreen David Masters, who bowled his ten overs straight through for a brilliant return of 2-16. Styris came to the crease with his side 58-5 but together with Redfern, steadily started to rebuild the damage with a partnership worth 63 runs in 17 overs.
Redfern then went on the sweep to Tom Westley (4-0-21-1) and was pinned leg before wicket for 29 but Styris continued to play responsibly despite the last five wickets going down in nine overs for 21 runs.
Tom Wells (4), Jigar Naik (0) and Ireland (4) were all bowled by the on-song Napier, and the all-rounder completed his five-for when Shreck (1) edged behind. That left Styris, who spent two years with Essex in 2010 and 2011 as an overseas player for the Twenty20 competition, out of partners having faced 61 balls and striking just two boundaries in his measured innings.
Other bowling figures for Essex were: Matt Salisbury 2-0-7-0, Bopara 4-0-16-0, Jesse Ryder 2-0-5-0.
Paceman Ireland was the catalyst of the Foxes victory as he exploited a slow pitch that offered late movement. The 29-year-old found the edge of the bat to have Mark Pettini caught by Naik at slip for 1 in his first over before striking twice in his next.
He encouraged Westley (3) to drive to Boyce at backward point and three balls later Greg Smith, still looking to get off the mark, was leg before wicket as he pushed forward.
That left the home side 6-3 and brought Ryder to the crease. The New Zealander sent his first two deliveries faced to the boundary and had added a couple more in his score of 17 to illustrate his positive approach.
But he was undone with the last ball before the interval when he played a loose on-drive and was caught at mid-on by Styris with Essex requiring a further 114 from 42 overs.
On the resumption, Bopara struck the first ball to the boundary but was bowled by an absolute beauty from Shreck (8.3-0-33-3) two deliveries later. The ball nipped away to clip the top of off-stump to remove Essex's key batsman.
The sixth wicket alliance between Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster offered some prospect of a revival but having taken the total to 70, ten Doeschate (24, 33b) was pinned in the crease by a ball from Thakor (8-1-21-3) that swung late back in to the batsman.
Napier became a second victim for Thakor, lbw pushing forward for a duck before Thakor struck for the third time in as many overs when he had Foster (18, 30b) well caught by Styris diving forward at mid-on.
Shreck picked up Masters without score, caught by Boyce at mid-wicket. Although Phillips (27, 49b) and Salisbury (5*, 18b) hung around defiantly in adding 23 for the last wicket, the former was finally dismissed, fittingly, by Styris who rounded off an excellent day's work when holding onto a running catch at long-off off Shreck.
Other bowling figures for Leicestershire were: Styris 3-0-5-0, Naik 5-0-17-0.
It was a massive win for Leicestershire Foxes, and Ireland said: "It was a modest total that we had to defend and at the halfway stage of the match, we couldn't be too confident that we would win. So we needed to get early wickets and we've worked hard to get our rewards. We haven't done well this year and everyone will stick their hands up to that but this will give us confidence and hopefully it will kick start our season in 50-overs competition."
It was a disappointing performance from the home side who would have hoped for better preparation for their NatWest T20 Blast T20 quarter-final against Birmingham Bears at home on Saturday. Head Coach Paul Grayson said: "We were very good with the ball and in the field but we were disappointing with the bat. There was some poor thinking, a bit of kamikaze cricket up front losing three wickets for not many. Everybody is very disappointed because its a game we should have won but we've lost."