Dexter shines but Steel makes life tough for Foxes

Leicestershire versus Durham, Specsavers County Championship, Day 2:

SCORECARD | Available through ESPN Cricinfo HERE

INTERVIEW | Neil Dexter spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae at stumps, the interview is available HERE

HIGHLIGHTS | The highlights of the second day are available HERE

REPORT | Neil Dexter claimed a five-wicket haul and ended the day unbeaten with the bat but Durham held the upper hand by stumps on day two at the Fischer County Ground.

The all-rounder returned superb figures of 5-71 as Durham scored 525-8 before declaring and Leicestershire ended proceedings at 123 for 4.

Earlier in the day, Cameron Steel’s score of 224 made him the youngest ever double-centurion for Durham. He became the second consecutive batsman to post 200 for the visitors on this ground in a Specsavers County Championship fixture as he followed in the footsteps of Mike Hussey in 2005.

The 21-year-old, who was born in California and spent the early part of his life in Australia, reached his 200 off 384 balls, hitting 24 boundaries in the process.

Durham resumed on 326 for 4 and Steel and Michael Richardson continued to build on a solid first day’s work.

Steel was watchful in the morning as he continued to make life tough for the Foxes. He was particularly aggressive against the short ball, sending deliveries through the leg-side no matter where they were pitched.

The Leicestershire attack probed away all morning with both Gavin Griffiths and Ajmal Shahzad looking threatening, drawing edges from the batsmen as well as enticing several false shots, and plays and misses, in the morning session.

County still couldn’t shift Steel, who then went to his maiden first-class 200. His innings included shots all round the ground but the batsman mainly hit the ball under his eyes through the V.

Two balls later, wicket-keeper batsman Richardson registered his half-century (93 balls, 5x4). Richardson had been watchful yesterday evening but looked fluent this morning, punishing the bad ball while manipulating the strike well to make it difficult for Leicestershire to build pressure.

Steel’s marathon innings came to an end after lunch with Dexter making the breakthrough, the batsman caught on the drive by Aadil Ali at backward point for a huge 224.

Dexter’s next over bought more reward for the Foxes with Ryan Pringle advancing down the track looking to hit the bowler straight back over his head. He was caught by stand-in skipper Ned Eckersley at mid-off without scoring.

Leicestershire struck for a third time within the first half hour of the second session when Dexter claimed his fourth wicket, Richardson held at first slip by Paul Horton for a well-made 82. Dexter’s superb post lunch spell continued when he got his fifth wicket of the innings in having Matthew Potts caught smartly at second slip by Harry Dearden.

Horton and Dearden opened the batting for the Foxes and initially runs were hard to come by with both Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth using all their experience and class, bowling tight lines and giving very little away.

Gradually the bowling became slightly looser with Horton using the cut shot to great effect and Dearden being particularly ruthless with any bowling that strayed onto his legs. The pair got through to tea with the score at 47 without loss.

The duo extended their alliance to 62 after tea but the final session belonged to Durham. Horton struck nine fours in a fluent 38 but the opener was the first batsman to fall, losing his off stump to a fine Rushworth delivery that moved back sharply.

Impressive England Under-19s seamer Potts built on the breakthrough by trapping Colin Ackermann (9) lbw before dismissing Dearden, who grafted very hard for his 30 from 109 deliveries, courtesy of a catch at second slip by Tom Latham.

Leicestershire lost a fourth wicket as Aadil Ali (9) was caught at the wicket off Paul Coughlin, who earlier scored an unbeaten 31 off 30 balls before Paul Collingwood called in his troops.

Eckersley (16*) and Dexter (9*) steered the side through to stumps with some careful defence but Leicestershire will resume day three trailing by 401 runs.

Bowling figures for Leicestershire: Klein 25-3-108-2, Shahzad 25-1-104-0, Griffiths 27-3-86-0, Dexter 25-3-71-5, Parkinson 35-4-120-1, Ackermann 5-0-28-0.

* Thanks to John Mallett for the photograph of Neil Dexter bowling during this match.