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by Pete Johnson
Leicestershire have put themselves in a strong position in their 2nd XI Championship game against Durham at the end of day two.
It was thanks to a good afternoon session with the ball, complimented by a fine opening partnership to their second Innings. At stumps on day two, they hold a lead of 193 runs, with all second Innings wickets in hand.
Durham started the day on 18-0 after six overs, in reply to Leicestershire's first innings total of 393-9 declared. The players being greeted by a warm and sultry morning when they took to the field.
Openers Reece Carr and Graham Clark had taken the total to 34, when Carr (16) was caught by Wyatt at mid-off of Anthony Ireland, a bit of careless driving by Carr, the first wicket going down at 34 after 10.1 overs.The pair safely took Durham into lunch on 137-2 after 39 overs.
Clark and Ryan Pringle then added 62 for the 2nd wicket before Clark (48) was bowled by a full toss from Ollie Freckingham with the score on 96 after 23.4 overs. Pringle was joined by Ram Singh, and Pringle completed his 50 (7x4/87 balls) just before lunch. The pair safely took Durham into lunch on 137-2 after 39 overs.
Singh appeared to be on song before lunch, but he was certainly out of tune in the third over after lunch when he was bowled by Tom Wells for 21 from 50 balls. Durham now being 146-3 after 41.4 overs.
Then followed a sickening incident two balls later. Incoming batsman Calum MacLeod drove Wells powerfully to mid-off. Ireland stooped to make a regulation stop, but at the last second the ball 'kicked up' of the turf, and struck Ireland a terrible blow in the face, the sound of ball against face could be heard from the Scorebox some 100 yards away.
Ireland had treatment on the field, but had to leave the action with blood pouring from his nose. The umpires inspected the ball to ensure that it had not gone out of shape after striking such a fearsome object! Seriously sincere condolences to Tony, we all hope that he makes a speedy recovery.
County then took the ascendency in the afternoon session, only Ryan Pringle standing between them and a prospective large first innings lead. MacLeod (15), was next to go, the Scot having a 'fling' at a delivery from Usman Tariq, and being caught in the gully by Shiv Thakor, diving to his left. Durham now 195-4 from 49.1 overs.
Pringle meanwhile was dipping into the Leicestershire bowling, and was relishing the flavour of the attack, and reached his 100 (15x4/1x6) from 140 balls after 54.3 overs with the score on 216-4. Stuart Poynter (10) was then bowled by Thakor, who was into an inspired spell of bowling from the Pavilion End, leaving Durham on 247-5 after 59 overs.
Pringle's vigil came to an end when he had reached 125, being trapped lbw to Thakor, leaving Durham on 252-6 after 62.1overs. Usman Arshad (4) was next to go caught by Wells at slip off Tariq, leaving Durham on 257-7 after 64.1 overs. With no addition to the score Paul Coughlin (5) was caught at slip by Thornely to become Thakor’s third victim, leaving Durham on 257-8. Thakor ended with the excellent analysis of 3-10 - at one point he had 3-5.
Next to go was Ryan Buckley (10) caught at first slip by Thornely off Freckingham, who had replaced Thakor at the Pavilion End. This was the second of two excellent slip catches by Thornely whose hands at the time reminded me of Fly Paper (for the uninitiated Fly Paper was an essential domestic 'must have' of yesteryear, old 'uns reading this will recall this domestic necessity). This catch secured maximum bowling points for County.
Matt Milnes (27 not out), and (Gavin Main 5 not out) took Durham to maximum batting points when Durham declared on 301-9 after 79.5 overs. The players then took tea, with Umpire Ben Debenham, especially, waiting to see what was 'in store' for him.
Leicestershire holding a lead of 92. Bowling figures: Ireland 10-3-34-1: Wyatt 11-1-44-0: Sheikh 14-2-42-0: Freckingham 14-4-52-2: Tariq 12-0-49-2: Thakor 7-4-10-3: Wells 5-1-31-1: Aadil Ali 6.5-0-32-0.
Leicestershire had 30 overs to bat after tea, and captain Matt Boyce and Thornely encountered few problems as they took County into stumps on 101-0. Boyce being 56 not out from 97 balls, his 50 coming from 77 balls and including nine fours). Thornely was unbeaten on 42 from 83 balls. Leicestershire will be looking to 'push on' quickly on day three to set Durham a challenging total.