Derbyshire tail clings on for thrilling draw
Derbyshire 305 and 236 for 9 drew with Leicestershire 507 for 5 dec
Derbyshire's late-order batsmen staged a magnificent rearguard action to deny Leicestershire victory and claim an unlikely draw on a tense final day in the Championship clash at Grace Road.
Leicestershire looked to be cruising to a victory when they had Derbyshire seven wickets down midway through the afternoon with the visitors still needing 39 runs to avoid an innings defeat. But with Greg Smith hitting a half-century Derbyshire dug in and lost only two more wickets in the next 42 overs.
Finally they reached 236 for 9 at which point the teams shook hands on a draw with only 15 minutes of play remaining. t was a brave effort from the Derbyshire tailenders with Azeem Rafiq scoring just 18 runs off 122 balls as he shared a ninth-wicket partnership of just 15 in 22 overs with Tim Groenewald who finished unbeaten on nine runs have produced 87 balls.
It all added up to a frustrating day for Leicestershire who had looked set to gain quick revenge for the innings defeat they suffered at Derby only two weeks ago. Nobody worked harder in a bid to secure that than veteran left-arm spinner Claude Henderson who, in a marathon 50-overs spell, bowled unchanged from the Bennett end and finished with three for 84. In all Henderson bowled 96 overs in the match taking seven wickets.
With offspinner Jigar Naik also bowling 31 overs the figures of three for 68 the last day saw 108 overs bowled. For much of it Leicestershire were well on top after Derbyshire had started out on 17 without loss still 185 behind.
An early wicket for Matthew Hoggard who trapped Wesley Durston lbw gave Leicestershire the start they wanted and when Henderson was brought on to bowl with half an hour gone the home side really did being to turn the screw. Henderson and Naik found plenty of turn and bounce from the pitch and wickets began to fall on a regular basis.
At lunch Derbyshire were 84 for 3 and then lost four more wickets during the afternoon session. Daniel Redfearn was caught at slip off Naik, Chesney Hughes was clean bowled by the offspinner, Luke Sutton taken at slip off Henderson and finally Jonathan Clare caught by substitute wicketkeeper Paul Dixey, who was covering from Tom New who suffered two broken toes yesterday, off Naik.
That left Derbyshire at 163 for 7 with still 40 minutes to go before the tea interval. But Smith proved defiant reaching his half century off 88 balls before providing another catch to Dixey off the bowling of Nathan Buck soon after tea.
But Leicestershire were then denied by Rafiq and Groenewald and by the time Hoggard dismissed on-loan Yorkshireman it was too little too late and the visitors hung on in for a battling draw.