Horton and Azad hit hundreds in draw

DAY 4 | Leicestershire CCC 487 and 211 for none declared drew with Gloucestershire CCC 571

SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE

POINTS | Leicestershire CCC 11 points, Gloucestershire CCC 12 points

REACTION | Leicestershire CCC Head Coach Paul Nixon spoke to Foxes TV following the draw at the Fischer County Ground. You can watch the full interview HERE.

REPORT | Dieter Klein, Hassan Azad and Paul Horton were in terrific form as Leicestershire CCC secured 11 points from a Specsavers County Championship draw against Gloucestershire CCC.

Klein finished with a season best four for 113 as Gloucestershire CCC were dismissed for 571 in their first innings with Ryan Higgins falling agonisingly short of a first career double-hundred.

Trailing by 84 with 75 overs remaining in the day, County needed to make sure they had a solid phase of batting to ensure that the visitors had no outside chance of victory.

It was a professional job by openers Horton and Azad, who shared a Foxes record 211 for the first wicket against Gloucestershire CCC.

Horton and Azad each recorded fine unbeaten centuries, with the latter becoming the 11th Leicestershire CCC batsman to record two first-class hundreds in a game.

It was the 14th occurrence in the club’s history given Maurice Hallam (3) and Ned Eckersley (2) each achieved it on more than one occasion.

With the final day underway, the Foxes were looking for four quick wickets to see off the resilient Gloucestershire batting line-up.

The visitors would have been hoping that their no.7 Higgins would make it to 200 as he began the day just four shy of the milestone.

Muhammad Abbas opened up the bowling from the Bennett End with Graeme van Buuren on strike, eager to get his teammate on strike, to give him the chance to get to the landmark.

Unfortunately for Higgins though, he only managed to face eight balls in the final day and his double hundred shot out of sight as Chris Wright clean bowled the batsman for 199.

It was an absolute snorter from Wright - not the sort of delivery you want to receive at any stage of an innings, let alone one short of a milestone - the ball kissing the surface, moving away and sending the off stump flying out of the ground.

The Foxes were looking dangerous and the second wicket of the day fell to ensure that the overnight batsmen were both out.

Klein took the wicket of van Buuren (43) with another cracking delivery. It was a short ball that the batsman couldn’t get out of the way of, and the ball cannoned into off stump via the glove.

The left arm paceman then went on to finish with a flourish in taking the final two wickets of the game. First, he pinned Shaw (9) lbw after the batsman shuffled across his stumps.

He then quickly followed up with the final wicket of the game as Sayers played on to his leg stump in attempting to run Klein down to third man. It meant Klein had taken three for 14 from five excellent overs on the final day.

Gloucestershire CCC led the Foxes by 84 as Horton and Azad made their way back out to the crease to get the second innings underway.

It was important that County knocked off the deficit as quickly as possible and the openers made a positive start.

Which they did, as Horton and Azad came out for the second innings and quickly got into their stride by hitting early boundaries.

Azad did particularly well in the second over, earning ten runs and hitting the boundary twice. Horton followed suit as he found the boundary with ease with what was left of the first session.

The Foxes lunched at 35 without loss, having reduced the deficit to 49 runs. Horton and Azad came back for the second period, and picked up where they left off

Leicestershire CCC's openers had both passed the initial test of a new ball and had certainly got in after both struck boundaries with ease.

The feeling of the second session was not dissimilar to that of the second innings against Lancashire CCC after the follow-on was enforced. After 50 minutes of play in the afternoon session, the duo had added 28 to their 35 they put on in the remaining 23 minutes of the morning session.

Their partnership passed the first landmark of fifty runs with Horton looking particularly good on the drive. The duo were looking comfortable at the crease and in no time went past the 84 that Gloucestershire CCC led by, thereby almost guaranteeing the draw.

In the 32nd over bowled by the slow left arm of van Buuren, Azad recorded his 39th run of the innings to move to the 500-run mark in the Specsavers County Championship this summer.

With 20 minutes to go until the second interval of the day, Foxes captain Horton brought up his half-century after dabbing Howell down to third man for an easy single. The was preceded by his partner at the crease, Azad, bringing up the 100 partnership.

Azad went on to bring up his second half-century of the fixture with a lobbed single out to mid-wicket off Jack Taylor.

The half-century came from 120 balls and included four boundaries, including a cheeky dab off former Loughborough MCCU teammate James Bracey that went between the legs of ‘keeper Gareth Roderick.

County went into tea at 131 without loss and were now nicely into the lead. With the Foxes not having lost a wicket all day, thoughts then turned towards a declaration around 5.00pm.

If that was going to be the case, Horton and Azad needed to keep scoring at a decent rate to ensure they reached their landmarks. And that was the moment that both Horton and Chris Dent were waiting for.

Horton reached his first century of the season from 167 balls, and Azad followed suit, reaching his second successive ton from 170 balls.

Azad now has 700 first-class runs under his belt in eight appearances this summer, including three scores of 100 plus, which is a fine achievement.

The Foxes’ next assignment is another Specsavers County Championship game against Northants CCC at Wantage Road on Sunday.

FIGURES (1st inns) | Abbas 30-13-66-3, Wright 30-5-114-2, Klein 23-3-113-4, Davis 21-3-83-1, Dexter 18-1-87-0, Ackermann 13-0-69-0, Dearden 2-0-13-0.

TEAM | Horton (capt), Azad, Dexter, Cosgrove, Ackermann, Dearden, Hill (wk), Klein, Wright, Davis, Abbas.

Gloucestershire CCC | Dent (capt), Hammond, Bracey, Roderick (wk), Howell, J Taylor, Higgins, van Buuren, Payne, Sayers, Shaw.

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

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