Foxes land opening win at Hove
DAY 4 | Leicestershire 252 & 222 for three beat Sussex CCC 173 & 308 by seven wickets
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
POINTS | Sussex CCC 3 points, Leicestershire CCC 21 points
REACTION | Paul Horton spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae at the end of the game. The interview is available HERE
REPORT | Half-centuries from Paul Horton, Hassan Azad and Mark Cosgrove steered Leicestershire CCC to an impressive seven-wicket victory in the Specsavers County Championship opener at Hove.
Debutant Azad (59) shared 88 for the second wicket with captain Horton (61) and a further 61 for the third with Cosgrove (53*).
The left-hander then guided the team home alongside Colin Ackermann (24*), who shared in an undefeated 56-run fourth wicket alliance to alongside his crucial five-wicket haul in the second innings.
It wrapped up a terrific 21-point victory for the Foxes, a team performance in which everybody contributed significantly at different stages.
Leicestershire CCC entered the final day in a promising position but still with work to do sitting at 99 for one, and had two patient, composed batsmen at the crease in Horton and Azad.
In a game that had ebbed and flowed because of wicket-taking bursts from the respective attacks, the key for the Foxes was to stand firm in the opening exchanges. It was very much mission accomplished with some disciplined, determined batting in the first session.
Horton and Azad began the fourth and final day confidently, watchful but well aware of the need to score at available opportunities, pushing the Foxes into three figures and over the halfway mark.
Leicestershire CCC’s skipper was caught in the slips though from Ollie Robinson’s bowling, via a combination of Phil Salt and Chris Jordan with the latter plucking the ball out of the air from the former’s parry.
Following the dismissal, Azad and Cosgrove kept up the good work as they worked their way towards the target of 230.
The duo were quick to latch on to anything short from the slow left arm of Danny Briggs, and were prepared to wait for the drive ball from the seamers as they collected boundaries when the situation presented itself.
Azad brought up his maiden Specsavers County Championship half-century from a very measured 196 minutes at the crease, facing 156 balls and hitting five fours in the process.
This was minutes before the Foxes went into lunch at 176 for 2, with Azad on 59* and Cosgrove on 27*, with just 54 runs required at that point.
Two balls into the second session of the day, Azad was dismissed, the batsman being caught in the slips by Phil Salt.
Ackermann came in to replace Azad and settled quickly, as the Foxes could boast two experienced batsmen at the crease that would see them over the line.
The No.5 swept his way to his first boundary and finished with another three fours in the 48 deliveries faced.
Cosgrove saw the Foxes past the 200 point with a superb drive down square as he earned himself back-to-back boundaries, and moved to 50 from 83 balls (8x4) with a four off the bowling of Chris Jordan.
Ackermann went on to hit the winning runs by cutting Jordan away from the last ball of the 73rd over, a fine stroke to wrap up an equally good victory.
Leicestershire CCC’s next Specsavers County Championship challenge comes at the Fischer County Ground with Worcestershire CCC the visitors on Thursday.
TEAM | Horton (capt), Ackermann, Azad, Cosgrove, Davis, Dearden, Griffiths, Hill (wk), Javid, Taylor, Wright.
Sussex CCC | Salt, Haines, Wells, van Zyl, Finch, Brown (capt & wk), Wiese, Jordan, Robinson, Briggs, Hamza.
IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.