Azad and Ackermann lead fightback
DAY 3 | Leicestershire CCC 302 & 132 for four v Worcestershire CCC 553 for six declared
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
REACTION | Leicestershire CCC batsman Ateeq Javid spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae at stumps. The interview is available HERE
REPORT | Hassan Azad and Colin Ackermann shared 93 as Leicestershire CCC fought hard on the third day of the Specsavers County Championship game at the Fischer County Ground.
The Foxes posted 302 in their first innings, which was 102 runs short of the follow-on target, and the hosts were asked to bat again by Ben Cox. Opener Ateeq Javid top-scored with a patient 69 compiled in almost five hours at the wicket.
Arrears stood at 251 at that point but were reduced by 132 at stumps as Azad (54), posting a second half-century in as many matches, played well in a fourth wicket stand with Ackermann (43*).
Unfortunately the partnership was broken by impressive paceman Josh Tongue before stumps, meaning that Leicestershire CCC will start the final day with six second innings wickets remaining.
Javid opened the batting for Leicestershire yesterday with captain Paul Horton, and was still at the crease at the beginning of day three with Leicestershire CCC resuming their first innings at 180 for four.
He started the day alongside former Warwickshire CCC teammate Chris Wright, but sadly neither overnight batsman managed to make it through until the lunch interval.
Wright was on strike at the start of day three from Ed Barnard, and looked to start quickly, flicking a four off of the first delivery.
Two overs later, the nightwatchman was caught at mid-wicket by Hamish Rutherford from Barnard’s bowling, and in came Harry Dearden for the Foxes. Wright went for a useful 17.
Dearden came in and settled quickly at the crease, hitting a boundary in his first full over faced. The batsman had rarely been trouble until Wayne Parnell trapped him lbw which saw him go for 13.
With lunch approaching, Javid was caught in the slips by Riki Wessels from Parnell’s bowling. The opener totted up 69 (10x4) from a gutsy 217-ball stay at the crease.
The Foxes went into the interval with Lewis Hill (26*) and Tom Taylor (20*) at the crease, sitting at 289 for seven. Early in the afternoon session, a key blow was struck as Hill (31) was caught by captain Cox after a beauty from Tongue that seamed considerably to take the outside edge.
The young quick was bowling with the new ball, which had been taken not long before lunch, and it paid dividends for the visitors.
Although Leicestershire CCC banked their third batting point, the innings came to its conclusion as Taylor (23) nicked Tongue to a diving Tom Fell at slip before Ben Mike (1) lofted an attempted pull off Barnard high into the sky, and Wessels took a safe catch running back from first slip.
There were still 53 overs remaining at that stage, and the Foxes lost three second innings before tea to Charlie Morris.
The seamer bowled Javid (5) with a good delivery that held its line to clip the top of off stump, trapped Horton (20) lbw with one that nipped back, and then had Mark Cosgrove (0) held at cover.
Worcestershire CCC now had their tails up but were rebuffed by a fourth wicket stand of substance either side of the tea interval.
Azad battled hard, recording a brace of boundaries with a flick off the hips and a lovely stroke through cover point amid some solid defence. Ackermann settled quickly, and the duo formed a good alliance against a mix of seam and spin given Brett D’Oliveira bowling a prolonged spell at the Pavilion End.
Patience was rewarded as a flurry of runs arrived, Azad striking six fours in the space of nine balls from the leg-spin of D’Oliveira to record an important half-century off 100 balls (8x4).
Ackermann was quick to knock away anything that strayed on to leg and also played one particularly glorious off-drive that flew to the ropes. He too was determined not to let D’Oliveira settle, latching on to a couple of sweep strokes to knock the tweaker off his length.
The approach forced Cox back into an all-seam attack and that paid off, Azad fending a fast, short delivery from Tongue to Daryl Mitchell at gully in the antepenultimate over of the day.
It brought Wright in for his second nightwatchman spell of the game, and he duly saw the Foxes to stumps alongside Ackermann.
TEAM | Horton (capt), Javid, Azad, Cosgrove, Ackermann, Dearden, Hill (wk), Taylor, Mike, Wright, Davis.
Worcs CCC | Mitchell, Fell, D’Oliveira, Rutherford, Wessels, Whiteley, Cox (capt & wk), Barnard, Parnell, Tongue, Morris.
IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.