Dexter posts century on excellent opening day

Worcestershire versus Leicestershire, Specsavers County Championship, Day 1:

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 first day are available HERE

REPORT | Neil Dexter made a stylish century while Mark Cosgrove passed the 1,000-run mark in the Specsavers County Championship for the third season in a row as Leicestershire batted extremely well on the opening day at New Road.

County were put under early pressure by Worcestershire before century stands between Cosgrove (74) and Aadil Ali (40), and Dexter (102*) and Lewis Hill (33), and Zak Chappell’s 32 not out off as many balls, propelled the score to 325 for 7.

Leicestershire deserve great credit not only for the superb recovery but also the adroit manner in which they played overseas off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

The batsmen took the attack to the India international and it was seamers Joe Leach, Josh Tongue and Ed Barnard that shared the wickets today for promotion-chasing Worcestershire.

Leicestershire won the toss on a pleasant September’s morning at New Road and captain Cosgrove elected to bat first.

There was a new look opening partnership with Ned Eckersley, in his 100th first-class appearance, joining Michael Carberry and they were tested by Leach and Tongue.

Eckersley flicked the first boundary through mid-wicket at the end of the sixth over before County lost a wicket in the tenth over. Carberry played a defensive stroke to Tongue and Ben Cox took the catch behind the stumps.

Skipper Leach then picked up a breakthrough as Eckersley (12), who previously edged the all-rounder just short of first slip, was snapped up by Daryl Mitchell at second slip.

Colin Ackermann (4) nicked an Ed Barnard delivery just wide of third slip but then saw his off stump disturbed by the young paceman’s very next delivery. From 19 without loss, Leicestershire were now at 25 for 3 in the 14th over.

Leach bowled ten overs on the bounce from the New Road End, returning figures of 1 for 20, before Ashwin came on for his first bowl of the day.

Cosgrove was aggressive against the off-spinner, pulling a four in his second over, while Aadil leant into a cover drive and pulled Barnard away with similarly good timing in the 24th over to double his score with a brace of boundaries.

The duo shared 50 inside 12 overs and the partnership had reached 63 by lunch, at which point Leicestershire were 88 for 3 with Cosgrove on 27* and Aadil 30 not out.

Another sweet piece of timing brought Aadil a fifth boundary shortly after lunch, Tongue being clipped through square-leg.

Ashwin was guided down to third man as Cosgrove collected a fourth four and a single off Tongue, his 43rd run, took the batsman to 1,000 Specsavers County Championship runs for the season. The left-hander became the third batsman to reach the landmark in Division Two after Mitchell and Paul Collingwood moved into four figures on the final day of the last round of fixtures.

Cosgrove then launched Ashwin down the ground for four before cover-driving Leach to the fence to reach 50 from 82 balls (6x4). The stand reached 100 but Leicestershire were to lose a fourth wicket as Aadil was trapped in front by Leach ten shy of 50.

Cosgrove formed an alliance worth 43 runs with Dexter, who picked up four early boundaries. But Cosgrove, who looked in no trouble in another masterful display of batting, had to go when top-edging an attempted pull off Barnard to Joe Clarke at square-leg.

Leicestershire refused to let Ashwin settle at any point; Dexter struck a trio of fours in the 55th over to cover point, mid-on and mid-wicket respectively.

The all-rounder pulled seamer Pat Brown for a mighty six at the end of the 60th over before a boundary and single in the following over from Ashwin took Dexter to a run a ball 50 (9x4, 1x6). Dexter raced to 59 by tea and Lewis Hill was on 9 as Leicestershire moved to 220 for 5.

Ashwin had his first bowl from the Diglis End at the start of the evening session. The partnership reached 50 before Dexter repeated his earlier feat of taking three boundaries from an Ashwin over, two of which cleared Leach at mid-off.

The Pears took the new cherry with the score at 267 for 5 and after the stand reached exactly 100, Tongue made the breakthrough with his first ball with the second new ball. The seamer nipped one back to trap Hill leg before for 33.

Conditions were now tricky for batting with the light closing in and Ben Raine (2) was bowled by Leach with the score at 285 for 7.

Chappell looked in fine touch as he guided the team to a third batting point. With rain followed by bad light, there was a delay with the score at 305 for 7, Dexter on 94* and Chappell having galloped to 20.

The first ball after the restart was steered for four by Dexter and the batsman went on to complete a terrific century from 120 balls with his 18th four, a classic cover drive. The batsman also hit a six in the milestone.

Fellow all-rounder Chappell played a number of delightful strokes, particularly through mid-on, before another stoppage wiped off the remaining three overs of what was an excellent opening day for Leicestershire.

TEAM | Carberry, Eckersley, Ackermann, Cosgrove (capt), Aadil, Dexter, Hill (wk), Raine, Chappell, Parkinson, Klein.

* Thanks to John Mallett for the photo of Neil Dexter batting at New Road today.

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