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by Charles Gill
Centuries from Daryl Mitchell and Tom Fell ensured that Worcestershire ended the third day in a commanding position 383 runs ahead after scoring 444 and declaring eight wickets down.
Nathan Buck led the way with his third five-for of the season, and Leicestershire made a good start to their second innings by moving to 20-0 from eight overs.
It promises to be an intriguing final day with Leicestershire requiring 384 more runs and Worcestershire needing to take all ten wickets.
Mitchell and Fell began the day on 44 and 24 respectively and started with a sense of urgency, scoring 37 runs in the first six overs.
Dan Redfern dropped the second Leicestershire catch of the match as Richard Jones (14-3-57-0), on loan from Warwickshire, found Fell’s edge with the score on 82-1. Fell, on 29 at the time, then added insult to injury by clipping the next ball sweetly to the mid-wicket boundary.
Mitchell brought up his 50 (93 balls and six fours) with a delicate leg glance for four, then brought the team 100 up in similar fashion later in the same over.
Fell had his fair share of luck today with an under-edge not carrying to Niall O’Brien behind the stumps, then a top edge from a pull shot falling short of the man at deep square leg. He reached his 50, his first of the Championship season, in 115 balls with seven boundaries.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire’s captain hit back-to-back boundaries to take him into the nineties, then another leg glance to reach his fourth century of the Championship season so far, this one in 160 balls containing 14 fours.
Ben Raine (21-1-82-1) entered the bowling attack and was very unlucky. Fell edged to the slip cordon, but Greg Smith and Redfern left the catch to each other and could only watch as the ball flew to the third-man boundary.
Mitchell also edged Raine to the slips however this one did not carry and Worcestershire ended the morning session having scored 119 runs without the loss of a wicket.
Buck (27.4-5-123-5) was the pick of the Leicestershire bowlers and started the afternoon session brightly sending Mitchell’s leg stump cartwheeling with a ball that nipped back at the captain, who scored 120 from 202 balls.
Mitchell, who dominated the 178-run partnership with Fell, has now scored 920 Championship runs this season, only second in the country behind Hampshire’s James Vince.
Fell continued to live dangerously and when he edged one between the keeper and a wide first slip in the nineties, he could probably sense that today was the day for his maiden first-class century.
The 20-year-old reached the milestone off 215 balls with a clip to the square leg boundary off Redfern’s off spin, the man who dropped him on 29 earlier today, to spark celebrations from the young batsman.
At the other end, Kervezee, who hit three successive balls from Charlie Shreck (33-8-108-1) for boundaries early in the afternoon session, notched up a 50 from 76 balls to accompany his first innings heroics. But he was soon dismissed when he chipped Redfern (9-0-34-1) to Ned Eckersley at mid-wicket for 57.
In the second over after tea, Fell finally fell when he tried running the ball down to third man off Buck, only succeeding in edging behind to O’Brien for 124 from 245 balls.
Raine also took a well-deserved wicket when he caught the bottom edge of Ben Cox’s bat for O’Brien to take a routine catch with the gloves.
A maiden first-class 50 for Tom Kohler-Cadmore, from just 52 balls, and some lusty blows from Ross Whiteley took Worcestershire’s lead to 403, but the looming declaration brought about wickets as well as runs.
Whiteley pulled Buck to Ramnaresh Sarwan at mid-on after hitting him for a beautiful straight six, then Kohler-Cadmore skied Shreck to Eckersley at mid-wicket who made no mistake with a tough catch over his shoulder.
Buck took his 5th wicket of the innings when he pegged back Joe Leach’s off stump for a quick-fire 18, and Captain Mitchell signalled the declaration after that wicket having reached 444-8, leaving Leicestershire 404 runs to win.
Smith (9*) and Angus Robson (10*) emerged from eight overs of Jack Shantry and Charlie Morris unscathed, as well as a final over from Saeed Ajmal, and finished the day 20-0 leaving 384 runs needed tomorrow for what would be a fantastic victory.