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County Championship: Ned Eckersley again saved Leicestershire

Ned Eckersley: Leicestershire batsman closed day three in sight of second century of match

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Ned Eckersley inspired Leicestershire's fightback on day three against Worcestershire in the County Championship Division Two clash at Grace Road.

Eckersley followed up his first-innings 106 with an unbeaten 91 off 159 balls and shared an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 70 with James Sykes (22no) that gave Leicestershire a lead of 126 runs going into the final day as they closed on 190-6.

Thilan Samaraweera earlier hit a season's best 144 not out, Worcestershire totalled 338 all out to claim a first-innings lead of 64.

The visitors were eyeing a day off when Leicestershire plunged to 120-6 but Eckersley once again came to the rescue, just as he had on day one.

Flawless

Samaraweera, resuming on 99 not out, cut Hoggard's first ball for two runs to reach his century off 203 balls with 11 fours. It had been a chanceless innings and he remained immovable even as wickets fell at the other end.

Hoggard trapped Michael Johnson lbw and then bowled Shaaiq Choudhry for a duck before left-arm spinner Sykes chipped in with two wickets in two balls.

Jack Shantry was snapped up off a thin edge by wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien and Graeme Cessford had his stumps shattered by a quicker delivery.

Ollie Freckingham brought the innings to a close by knocking back Alan Richardson's leg stump, leaving Samaraweera unbeaten on 144 off 262 balls with 17 boundaries.

Worcestershire's lead was 64 and Leicestershire were four wickets down before they wiped off the arrears, with openers Greg Smith and O'Brien back in the pavilion with only 23 runs on the board.

Cessford, wicketless in the first innings, accounted for both of them. O'Brien top-edged a catch off a miscued pull and Smith was bowled by a ball that nipped back.

Problems

Leicestershire's problems mounted with Shiv Thakor lbw to Jack Shantry and Tom Wells bowled, shouldering arms to the same bowler.

Josh Cobb and the ever reliable Eckersley, took Leicestershire into the lead with a stand of 34 before the former was caught at cover by Samaraweera off Cessford in the last over before tea.

Ben Raine looked in good touch making 19 out of stand of 23 with Eckersley before being dismissed in bizarre fashion by Choudhry.

He played a routine defensive shot only for the ball to somehow spin back and roll into the stumps dislodging the off bail to leave the hosts staring down the barrel.

But Eckersley remained unflappable, reaching his half-century off 106 balls with six fours and he finally found some support in Sykes.