Ruthless Foxes land back-to-back wins

SCORE | Day 3 of 4, Specsavers County Championship: Leicestershire CCC 217 & 217 for 4 beat Northamptonshire CCC 204 & 229 by 6 wickets

SCORECARD | Available through ESPN Cricinfo

REACTION | Leicestershire CCC Head Coach Paul Nixon spoke after today's excellent win

HIGHLIGHTS | In-play highlights are available throughout the 2018 season

POINTS | Northamptonshire CCC 4 points, Leicestershire CCC 19 points

REPORT | Leicestershire CCC produced a ruthless all-round performance to land back-to-back Specsavers County Championship victories at Northamptonshire CCC.

Tremendous bowling and fielding from the Foxes ensured that the final seven Northants second innings wickets were claimed for just 53 runs to set up a chase of 217.

Muhammad Abbas and Ben Raine set the tone by bowling a combined opening spell of 13-2-33-4. The duo shared seven wickets in the innings with leading wicket-taker Raine snaring 4 for 54.

Lewis Hill (85) and Paul Horton (62) then shared the game’s highest partnership, 148 for the second wicket, as Leicestershire CCC calmly knocked off the target to win by six wickets at Wantage Road.

The game was intriguingly poised at the start of proceedings as Northants resumed 152 runs ahead with seven wickets remaining. Alex Wakely and Adam Rossington took their stand beyond 50 in the third over of the morning.

Abbas then made an important breakthrough as Rossington (29) edged to Neil Dexter, the fielder having not long been positioned at second slip after Mark Cosgrove had to temporarily leave the field with a thumb injury.

The game continued to fascinate with Raine and Abbas bowling beautifully, and Wakely and Rob Keogh having to use all of their powers of concentration. Keogh (3) became the second victim of the day to Abbas, nicking a trademark delivery in the corridor of uncertainty to ‘keeper Hill.

Raine then went around the wicket to trap Saif Zaib (0) in the following over with Northants now 182 ahead with four second innings wickets intact.

The all-rounder claimed his fourth wicket when Rory Kleinveldt (3), who had previously squeezed a ball narrowly beyond short mid-wicket, then hit another ball into that region. Substitute Ateeq Javid had only just been moved further to his left to accommodate a second fielder - and took a terrific catch diving to his left.   

By the time that Abbas was replaced by Chappell at the Lynn Wilson End, the overseas star had recorded superb figures of 3 for 46 from 20 overs.

Nathan Buck added 17 valuable runs before Javid took another blinder, this time after the batsman drilled Gavin Griffiths to short extra cover, and the seamer struck for a second time in the 75th over when Ben Cotton (0) was pinned right in front.

Wakely had adopted a risk-free approach in a fine knock but now had to change tack. He survived on 72 when pulling Chappell to Callum Parkinson at square-leg but dismissed off the next ball for 74 when attempting to come back for a second run. Javid continued his fine first session’s work by scampering around and producing a pinpoint throw from deep extra cover.

There was time for two overs before lunch and Leicestershire CCC lost Harry Dearden (0), bowled by Kleinveldt, to go in at 1 for 1.

Wakely’s effort had been the only half-century of the match to that point but Hill and Horton put paid to that statistic in their cultured alliance.

Hill, in at three given Ackermann was struggling with a finger injury sustained earlier in the match, was prepared to wait for the bad ball and swift to latch on to anything short or overpitched.

Horton also showed great application and was duly rewarded with cut boundaries off Buck, Keogh and Kleinveldt as the session progressed. Hill collected a trio of sweetly timed boundaries off Buck, including a pull that perfectly split two boundary riders.

The 'keeper progressed to 50 from 97 balls with an eighth four, guided down to third man off Cotton, and the duo’s diligence meant that the Foxes had knocked off more than half of their target before tea.

Progress continued after the interval as Horton moved to 50 off 139 balls (6x4) and both batsmen played the spin of Keogh well, either by getting to the pitch and playing to mid-on or pushing the ball through the off-side.

But the off-spinner stuck to his task and Horton tickled a leg-side delivery to Rossington with the score two shy of 150.

Ackermann started as he meant to go on, hammering his second ball for a huge six to mid-wicket, and the batsman also skipped down the pitch to launch Keogh for two powerful fours and Zaib for six and four.

Hill was trapped lbw attempting to sweep Zaib, and Cosgrove (0) also holed out to the slow left armer, but Ackermann finished unbeaten on an excellent 42 off 40 balls while Dexter (10*) hit the winning boundary as the Foxes picked up 19 points.

TEAM | Horton (capt), Dearden, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Dexter, Hill (wk), Chappell, Raine, Parkinson, Griffiths, Abbas.

FIGURES | 1st innings: Abbas 16-4-43-0, Raine 17-5-35-3, Griffiths 11-2-55-0, Chappell 14-2-44-6, Parkinson 4-2-10-0, Dexter 7-1-16-1.

2nd innings: Raine 22-5-54-4, Abbas 20-7-46-3, Chappell 15-3-43-0, Parkinson 12-2-46-0, Griffiths 7.1-1-23-2.

PHOTO | Thanks to John Mallett for the photo of Lewis Hill batting.

* Leicestershire CCC's next Specsavers County Championship home game is against Middlesex starting on Wednesday, June 20. Tickets are available for all four days online HERE