Lancs Seconds declare on day one

SECOND XI CHAMPIONSHIP | Leicestershire CCC v Lancashire CCC

SCORE | Leicestershire CCC 28 for two v Lancashire CCC 371 for three declared

SCORECARD | Available HERE

REPORT | Leicestershire Second XI stuck to their task to register an important bonus point on the opening day of the Championship game against Lancashire Second XI.

The Foxes started the opening day of the last group fixture looking for a win at Kibworth CC but knew that securing six points from a draw would also book their place in the final.

That element of a positive result is vital for third-placed Leicestershire CCC, because although Yorkshire Second XI and Nottinghamshire Second XI are the current top two, the Red Rose county could move from fourth to first with a victory.

Bonus points in the Second XI start from scoring 150 with the bat, and taking three wickets with the ball, with a maximum of four batting and bowling points up for grabs in the first 100 overs of the first innings.

Points for a win or draw – 16 and 5 respectively – is the same as per the First XI Specsavers County Championship regulations.

So, although Haseeb Hameed made an impressive unbeaten 159 in a solid visiting score of 371, the three wickets that Leicestershire Second XI claimed before the declaration could prove to be decisive if they are to go on to claim a positive result.

There is a lot of cricket left in the game though, so Hassan Azad (16no) and Ateeq Javid (11no) will be looking to go big tomorrow against an experienced visiting attack that includes internationals Graham Onions and Stephen Parry, as well as Tom Bailey and Toby Lester.

Alex Evans played a key role on the opening day; taking two for 32 from 11.3 overs including that crucial third wicket.

Lancashire were inserted with a bit of damp around, but though Hameed was a little scratchy to begin with, batting looked a relatively comfortable business throughout the first session.

Owais Shah, a left-hander, drove impressively through cover & extra cover, such that only 8 of his runs had been scored on the leg side when he was bowled, playing defensively, by Alex Evans for 64 in the second over after lunch.

Hameed (37 at this stage) began, with new partner, Danny Lamb, to play more fluently, such that his 116 ball 50 took only 16 deliveries more than that of Shah, though the latter’s was recorded 15 overs earlier.

Hameed was very strong through & over mid-wicket and wide mid-on, using his feet convincingly & effectively to the spinners.

The scoring rate accelerated from a little above three an over in the first session, to more than 4.5 an over in the afternoon session, Lamb reaching 50 in 78 balls, & Hameed’s second 50 taking just 60, as Lancs reached tea at 287-1 in 72 overs.

As after lunch, an early breakthrough in the third over of the evening session came as Lamb, who had been strong square of the wicket on both sides, chipped Javid rather tamely to Sam Evans at mid-wicket for 86 (130 balls).

Jones took a little while to settle in and hit only one boundary in his 33, just before top-edging a hook from Alex Evans, with the new ball, to Bowley running in from deep square-leg.

As Lancs declared on 371-3, Hameed finished unbeaten on 159, in contrast to his opening partner, scoring far more heavily on the leg-side, just 43 of his runs coming on the off. A.Evans an economical 2-33, conceding just 3 in a 6-over opening spell, & Bowley quite tidy with 0-48 in 15. A total of 22 runs in no-balls was not helpful to the cause.

It meant that 13 overs remained, and the powerful Lancashire opening combination (actually the same pair which opened against Leicestershire CCC’s 1st XI in the Championship match at Liverpool in May) looked forever threatening, beating the bat frequently.

Skipper Sam Evans bowled by Bailey, playing back, without scoring, and Ali, caught by Jones at second slip off Onions, pushing forward defensively, were the wickets.

Azad and Javid survived the remaining nine overs, not without alarm, the high point being back-to-back cuts for four by Azad off Onions in the tenth over.

IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.

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