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Rob Taylor and Nathan Buck shared nine wickets as Leicestershire and Gloucestershire continue to play out a close LV=CC game at Grace Road.
County reduced Gloucestershire to 88-4 on day two before loanee Geraint Jones scored 93 off 75 deliveries as part of a fifth wicket stand of 107 with Will Gidman (52*, 123b).
That looked to have put the visitors in the box seats but Taylor produced a fine swing bowling performance to land a career-best 5-55 and the indefatigable Buck (23.3-8-81-4) bowled with skill and hostility as Gloucestershire were bowled out for 260.
It meant that Gloucestershire had lost their final six wickets for the addition of 65 runs, which was a brilliant effort given the attack was lacking two bowlers at times. Charlie Shreck was sidelined for the entire day through injury and Alex Wyatt also had a spell off the field.
County then progressed to 12-0 in 3.2 overs of tough conditions thanks to Greg Smith (10*, 12b) and Angus Robson (2*, 8b), so the team ended with a lead of 21.
This has been a game of remarkable symmetry. The first day saw a score of 269 followed by 12-0, and the second day saw Gloucestershire dismissed for 260 before Leicestershire replied with 12-0. Both wicket-keepers provided a top-score, while the respective all-rounders each claimed five-wicket hauls.
Chris Dent drove a four in the opening over of the day from Buck and Michael Klinger punched down the ground in Wyatt’s first over. The captain then edged the seamer but it dropped just short of Jigar Naik at first slip.
Dent cut Buck in the air towards substitute fielder Tom Wells at point but it went like a tracer bullet. Dent then pulled to the fence as the openers were determined to punish anything loose.
Klinger was beaten by a great delivery from Wyatt but responded by driving to the cover point boundary later in the 9th over. The all-action start continued as Dent (14, 22b) was trapped in front in the next over by Buck, who is enjoying a tremendous start to the season. Usual top order batsman Will Tavare was struggling with injury and wasn’t able to bat until after tea.
Alex Gidman was promoted to three and Klinger struck Buck through mid-wicket for four. Wyatt beat Alex Gidman with two consecutive deliveries and Buck and Wyatt (14-2-55-0) bowled testing maidens to keep the pressure on the duo.
Alex Gidman (18, 33b) broke the shackles by glancing down to fine leg before cutting down to third man and cover point for further fours. The batsman looked in good touch but Rob Taylor produced a terrific delivery to clip the top of off stump after he decided to play no stroke.
Wyatt also moved one back sharply to Klinger before swinging the next ball away from the bat. Rob Taylor went past Hamish Marshall with two successive away swingers and the batsman then edged the next delivery. The ball flew to Robson at gully but the difficult chance went to ground.
Klinger worked hard and was rewarded with a four over backward point when Rob Taylor lost his line momentarily. Buck steamed in for a second spell down the hill and after bowling 14 dots on the trot to Klinger and Marshall (5, 28b), the latter batsman edged and Jigar Naik took a great catch at first slip.
Buck then beat Klinger’s outside edge with a couple of crackers as he sent down a fourth consecutive maiden. A counter attack followed with 15 runs coming in the space of two overs. Seven came off Naik’s first over as Jones hit over extra cover for three before Klinger punched past mid-on for four.
Jones pulled Buck for four to end the seamer’s sequence of 25 scoreless deliveries and the ‘keeper then cut between two slips and two gullies to the third man boundary. A change of angle worked a treat as Rob Taylor, who replaced Buck, had the gritty Klinger (37, 98b) held by Naik at slip.
Buck returned from the Pavilion End for the lunch over and Jones drove aerially for four as Gloucestershire went in on 95-4. The visitors immediately took the attack to the bowlers as Will Gidman swept Naik for four to register the 100.
Buck replaced the off-spinner after one over and Jones scored eighteen off his first over back, including a drive through mid-wicket for four and two pulled sixes. The paceman did not let it affect him – he responded with a maiden.
The quickfire knock of Jones continued as he pulled Wyatt for four and six to move to 49. Jones brought up a 38-ball half-century with a sixth four - he also hit those three aforementioned sixes - and the latest boundary also brought up the 50 partnership with Will Gidman.
The luckless Wyatt was edged for four by Will Gidman, who produced lap sweeps in Naik’s second over back to pick up four and two respectively. Jones drove Wyatt either side of the wicket for a brace of fours and the seamer then had to leave the field through injury.
Jones guided and pulled Rob Taylor for four before having an escape on 78. The batsman lofted Naik (16-5-45-1) high to substitute Wells in the deep, but the chance went to ground and the ball rolled for four to rub salt into the wounds. As so often happens, the next delivery was then driven to the ropes.
A leg bye extended the alliance into three figures and Jones flicked away to move into the nineties. But Naik picked up a deserved success as the batsman attempted to sweep a quicker delivery and fell leg before seven runs short of his century.
Will Gidman collected three to take the score to 200 and the left-hander then pulled and drove to the ropes. Benny Howell struck Naik for a straight six before delicately cutting the next ball for four. His breezy 14 (18b) came to an end as Buck held on to a great return catch.
Gloucestershire were 220-6 at that point and Will Gidman and Tom Smith added a further 25 before tea. Will Gidman drove the first ball of the final session from Buck for four to move to within three of fifty but Tom Smith was then pinned right in front to Taylor’s first delivery.
Tavare came in at nine with a runner and guided Gloucestershire to a second batting point. But after surviving an appeal for lbw, he fell to Taylor’s next delivery in the same manner. Will Gidman progressed to a 119-ball fifty (7x4) to add to his five-for but was left stranded.
Taylor completed his five-for by Matt Taylor (3, 6b) to nick to Niall O’Brien while Buck wrapped up the innings with a snorter as Norwell fended his first ball to the ‘keeper. In the Leicestershire second innings, Greg Smith drove and pulled for four before umpires David Millns and Martin Saggers took the players went off for bad light with the game evenly poised. Rain then followed as the day was abandoned.
Other bowling figures for Leicestershire: Shreck 3-1-7-0, Josh Cobb 2-0-3-0, Robson 1-0-6-0.