Eckersley ton blunts Worcs
Leicestershire 229 for 2 (Eckersley 108*) trail Worcestershire 320 for 7 dec (Samaraweera 100*) by 91 runs
Ned Eckersley again made New Road a stage for his batting talent as Leicestershire blunted Worcestershire's hopes of pressing for a win with their spinners in their rain-hit clash.
The home side set out their stall by declaring at 320 for 7 after a maiden Championship century for Thilan Samaraweera, but Eckersley's undefeated 108 took Leicestershire to 229 for 2. They were still 91 behind when the third day closed because of bad light.
The 23-year-old's third first-class century, a well crafted innings with 14 fours from 186 balls balls, was completely different from an explosive performance when he last appeared on this ground in August last year. Hitting seven sixes in an unbeaten 72 from 44 balls he turned impending defeat into a memorable 40-over victory.
A return visit offered a new challenge in facing Shaaiq Choudhry and Moeen Ali in helpful conditions for the spin pair. Slow left-armer Choudhry, appearing in a home Championship match for the first time, made a breakthrough by bowling Michael Thornely after an opening partnership of 51 with Niall O'Brien.
In general, however, Leicestershire played the slow bowlers well and O'Brien, although restricted to a couple of fours, featured in a stand of 55 with Eckersley before he was bowled for 46. That was Moeen's 100th first-class wicket and soon afterwards he might have had another when Ramnaresh Sarwan was dropped at short midwicket.
That proved to be costly for Worcestershire as the West Indies batsman - he will be playing in the Champions Trophy next month - reached 46 not out and helped Eckersley through to his hundred. Their stand was worth 123 at the close but the overall tempo for the match has been stuck at a fraction under three runs an over.
Samaraweera's first innings for Worcestershire at New Road was technically proficient but rarely eye-catching. After passing 50 he went through more than 30 overs without scoring a boundary and the clip off his legs that brought up the hundred was only his ninth four in over five hours.
Worcestershire resumed on 294 for 7 and claimed a third batting bonus point with Choudhry making 32 not out in an unbroken stand of 63 with Samaraweera.