Leicestershire fritter away openers' hard work
Leicestershire 315 for 9 v Gloucestershire 504 for 9 dec
Despite a career-best 119 from Matt Boyce and a record opening partnership, Leicestershire were left facing a desperate battle to save the follow-on against Gloucestershire at Grace Road. A dramatic collapse saw Leicester lose seven wickets for 77 runs in 20 overs and they finished the third day of the County Championship Division Two match on 315 for 9 - still needing another 40 runs to avoid being asked to bat again.
Leicestershire looked in no danger as they progressed smoothly to 236 for 2 in pursuit of Gloucestershire's first innings score of 504 for 9 - but then seamers John Lewis and Ian Saxelby turned the game on its head with the second new ball. Lewis took three wickets for two runs in 20 balls and Saxelby three for eight in 19 balls to rip the heart out of the home side's batting.
It undid all the earlier good work from Boyce and Will Jefferson (90), who looked in no discomfort at all as they shared an opening stand of 195 - a record for Leicestershire in games against Gloucestershire. Having survived eight difficult overs yesterday evening the opening pair remained together throughout the morning session as Gloucestershire toiled away on what was still a flat and easy-paced pitch.
Boyce, whose previous best score this season was 41, reached his half-century off 94 balls with eight boundaries while the more cautious Jefferson took 131 balls and hit six fours on his way to a 50. But he failed to make it to three figures, dismissed for 90 when he was given lbw as he pushed forward to off spinner Kane Williamson.
Two runs later the New Zealander struck again claiming the wicket of former Gloucestershire man Kadeer Ali in identical fashion. But Josh Cobb joined forces with Boyce to take Leicestershire to 200 for 2 by the tea interval with Boyce needing eight runs for his century.
It came soon after the break and included 13 boundaries and took 223 balls. It was the second of Boyce's career and then he went passed his previous best score of 106 made against Warwickshire in 2008. But when the second new ball was taken at 226 for 2 in the 80th over the game swung Gloucestershire's way.
Lewis claimed the wickets of Cobb, Boyce and Jigar Naik in a devastating spell with Boyce caught behind as he drove outside the off stump. Then Saxelby stepped in with the wickets of Andrew McDonald, Paul Dixey and Claude Henderson and suddenly the home side were in desperate trouble.
Nathan Buck also went before the close and it was left to Matthew Hoggard and Nadeem Malik to survive the final two overs in the gathering gloom. But Gloucestershire will fancy their chances at victory if they claim the final wicket quickly on the last day and enforce the follow on.