Seconds battling in crucial Championship clash

SECOND XI CHAMPIONSHIP | Leicestershire CCC v Lancashire CCC

SCORE | Leicestershire CCC 199 and 63 for two v Lancashire CCC 371 for three declared

SCORECARD | Available HERE

REPORT | Lancashire Second XI maintained their grip on the Championship fixture despite a battling Leicestershire Second XI batting performance on day two.

The Foxes batted for 92 overs but fell just short of the follow-on target, and reached 63 for two in their second innings.

A theme of the day was batsmen showing good application, and Ateeq Javid, Ben Mike and Don Butchart each made scores in the 40s while Hassan Azad also batted for the best part of two-and-a-half-hours.

That resilience could well stand Leicestershire Second XI in good stead with a draw required in order to secure their place in the Final.

Day two began under sunny skies, but the Lancashire Second XI opening bowling partnership remained miserly and threatening for the first 10 overs of the day.

A change of bowling provided some relief for Javid who, having struck the first ball of the day from Graham Onions through extra cover for four, took successive boundaries from Lamb’s first two deliveries.

Javid took another in that bowler’s following over, mixed with frequent singles into the leg-side, as his score pulled away from that of his partner.

Azad, though, we know, can remain unflustered while absorbing extensive scoreless periods.

So it was a surprise when, having registered a couple of singles following a 31-ball run drought, he misjudged the strength of his forward push straight of mid-on, allowing Hameed to run him out for 23, with a close range direct hit following a tumbling gather.

As if to back up the adage that a breakthrough invariably costs two wickets, four overs later, Javid was squared up by what looked a fine delivery from Onions and edged it to ‘keeper George Lavelle for 46.

Mike and Butchart negotiated the remaining seven overs up to lunch, taken at a slightly perilous 85 for four.

Afterwards they progessed solidly to a partnership of 81, doubling the score at the fall of the fourth wicket and bringing the target to avoid the follow-on down to 60 more runs.

However, at this point, Mike, who had largely restrained his natural attacking instincts in compiling a 135-ball 47, was lured into a slog-sweep by a flighted delivery from left-arm spinner Tom Morley, and the bottom corner of his bat sent the ball into the hands of Lamb at mid-wicket.

That adage rang plausible again, as four overs later, Onions pinned Butchart LBW for a well-compiled 40, playing back, defensively, against the new ball.

Then wicket-keeper Sam Bates, having started breezily with three twos, contrived to edge the final ball before tea, from left-arm seamer Toby Lester, back on to his stumps while attempting to leave.

A score of 162 for four had quickly become 178 for seven, and the follow-on target suddenly looked challenging.

So it proved, as Lester took a wicket in each of his first two overs after tea. Brinder Phagura edged a front foot push-drive to Lavelle, & Nathan Bowley leg before playing no stroke, both for 4.

Jack Nightingale, who came in at seven & finished 17*, tried gamely to manipulate the strike, but one ball at the end of Onions’ return over was enough to hit the stumps past Alex Evans’ back defensive stroke, & the last six wickets had fallen for 37 in 86 balls.

Leicestershire CCC were all out for 199, 23 short of avoiding the follow-on. Onions had 4-44 & Lester 3-32.

This was duly enforced by Lancashire Second XI with 23 overs left to play in the day. Sam Evans & Azad looked relatively comfortable against Lester & Lamb with the new ball.

A five was a welcome first scoring shot for the latter - a great way to get off the mark - when Hameed’s throw evaded those backing up, but any relish would have been short-lived, as the batsman missed an attempt to turn Morley to be lbw for 13, the score at 38.

In one of those delightful little cricketing quirks, new batsman Ali also got off the mark with a five - also via a too-feisty throw from Hameed - and was subsequently dismissed for 13.

Having struck a full toss from the first ball of spinner Jack Hartley’s fifth over for six to a long square leg boundary, he was bowled, pushing a long way forward to the last ball of the same over.

Four more runs were added in the last two overs, seeing Leicestershire CCC close at 63-2, still 109 behind, Evans on 31, Javid, 2.

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

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