Foxes need ten wickets on final day

Leicestershire versus Northamptonshire, Specsavers County Championship, Day 3:

SCORECARD | Available through ESPN Cricinfo HERE

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

HIGHLIGHTS | The highlights of the third day are available HERE

REPORT | by Harry Josephs

Captain Mark Cosgrove was again in the runs as Leicestershire continued to make life difficult for promotion-chasing Northamptonshire on day three at the Fischer County Ground.

The visitors picked up a batting point but were only able to add three runs to their overnight score of 199 for 8.

Cosgrove scored 80 to move to 1,161 first-class runs for the summer as Leicestershire posted 270 in the second innings to set Northants 197 to win.

There were 22 overs scheduled to be bowled in the day but only six were possible in the fading light. Northants reduced the target by 17 without loss, so County will need ten wickets on the final day to land victory.

Conditions were much the same on the morning of the third day of this gripping Specsavers County Championship game. 

Ben Raine took his fifth wicket of the innings with just his second ball of the day, removing Josh Cobb with an away-swinger that the batsman edged to wicket-keeper Lewis Hill. A five-wicket haul was a much-deserved reward for Raine, who bowled superbly. 

The Northants innings came to a close after just 13 balls in the morning as Ben Sanderson was the last wicket to fall, bowled by Dieter Klein without scoring. Northants had slipped from 168 for 2 to 202 all out – it represented a great fightback from County.

With Rory Kleinveldt unable to bowl, Sanderson and Gleeson opened the bowling for Northants, and Michael Carberry and Sam Evans got the second innings underway for Leicestershire.

Leicestershire got off to a good start with both openers hitting several boundaries in the first five overs. Evans struck two neat boundaries off Gleeson, the first an effortless punch through cover and the second a clip off his legs which raced for four. The pair put on 27 before Carberry was trapped lbw by Gleeson for 16. 

Northants bowlers were asking questions but the partnership between Evans and Ned Eckersley was gradually building. Both batsmen punished loose deliveries while showing respect to the good balls. But Eckersley then fell to an in-ducker to go leg before to Sanderson for 19.

Evans looked assured in his stay at the crease before off-spinner Rob Keogh claimed the third successive leg before dismissal to end his knock of 29. 

It left Cosgrove and Aadil Ali with a tricky little passage to bat before the lunch interval. The pair saw County through with Aadil hitting a lovely sweep off Keogh for 4, helping Leicestershire to 90 for 3 at the break.

After lunch Aadil struck boundaries in the first two overs to bring up County’s hundred. The first was an emphatic pull shot off Gleeson and the second a late cut shot off Keogh that raced to the fence.

The off-spinner was proving difficult to get away making many balls spin considerably, several beating both batsmen and wicket-keeper before going for four byes. Cosgrove also got into the act launching Keogh over his head for six.

Cosgrove was becoming more and more brutal on the bowling; in the 39th over of the innings, Keogh dropped short in length twice and both balls disappeared to the boundary. The second four brought up the fifty partnership between the captain and Aadil. The pair kept being positive to make life difficult for the Northants bowlers, particularly given they were a bowler down.

The pair put on 82 before Aadil fell, the batsman stumped by David Murphy after using his feet against Simon Kerrigan, who would go on to claim 4 for 64. It was a shame for Aadil, who had grafted away throughout his innings and looked comfortable. His 37 came from 77 balls and included seven boundaries. 

County had a lead of 91 when Aadil was out and the team had added six more runs when Neil Dexter (2) edged the slow left armer to Richard Levi at second slip.

Cosgrove reached fifty for the sixth time this season with a single into the off-side, it was another excellent knock from the captain coming from 84 balls and containing seven boundaries and a six. 

The captain and Lewis Hill bought up their half-century partnership in exactly nine overs as Cosgrove hit a gorgeous lofted cover drive. Cosgrove scored 37 of those runs while Hill was happy to absorb any pressure and scored when the opportunity arose. 

Their alliance was unbroken at tea with County at 228-5, leading by 154 runs, but it was ended at 60 after the interval.

Cosgrove was dismissed lbw by the impressive Sanderson for a quality 80 from 134 balls (10x4, 1x6). It capped a wonderful season for the captain; for the third year in a row he hit 1,000 first-class runs and has led the way with the bat not just in the County Championship but all three formats.

Cosgrove’s dismissal bought first innings hero Raine to the crease and he immediately looked in good touch, drilling a straight drive off Sanderson. Unfortunately, Raine (8) then hit a short ball from Sanderson to Keogh who was fielding in the deep on the leg-side.

Zak Chappell (1) became the second stumping victim of the innings, this time after overbalancing, and Hill was the next man to fall, lbw to Gleeson for a well-made 27. The final wicket was claimed by Kerrigan as Klein was bowled for 13.

As in the Northants first innings Rob Newton and Procter opened the batting, and Klein and Raine again shared the new ball. The start was attritional with County going close to a breakthrough on a couple of occasions. The players came off for bad light at 5.10pm and they were not to return as rain then started to fall.

Bowling figures for Leicestershire (first innings): Klein 11.1-2-38-1, Raine 20-6-54-5, Chappell 9-2-38-0, Dexter 10-2-39-0, Parkinson 9-1-41-3.

Bowling figures for Leicestershire (second innings): Klein 3-1-10-0, Raine 3-1-6-0.

* Thanks to John Mallett for the photograph of Mark Cosgrove batting today.

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