Klinger helps Gloucs stay in touch
Gloucestershire 164 for 3 (Klinger 89*) beat Leicestershire 163 (O'Brien 43, Fuller 2-18) by seven wickets
Michael Klinger continued his superb form with an unbeaten 89 as Gloucestershire turned up the heat on Group C leaders Somerset by beating Leicestershire in a one-sided contest in Bristol.
Put in to bat on a slow pitch, Leicestershire were bowled out for a below-par 163 in 35.2 overs, Niall O'Brien top-scoring with 43. In-form Michael Klinger then posted an assured 89 not out as Gloucestershire chased down a modest target with seven wickets and 9.4 overs in hand.
Gloucestershire leapfrog Glamorgan and Middlesex and move into second place, level on points with Somerset but with a game in hand. They next play Middlesex at Lord's on Thursday and Glamorgan in Bristol on Sunday, and victory in both games will set up a potential winner-takes-all showdown with Somerset on August 26.
Leicestershire never recovered from the loss of early wickets as one batsman after another struggled with conditions. Gloucestershire's pace attack did most of the damage with James Fuller, David Payne and Craig Miles claiming two wickets apiece, while Benny Howell and Tom Smith also chipped in.
Josh Cobb and O'Brien staged a match-winning opening stand of 193 when these sides last met at Grace Road in May and Gloucestershire no doubt breathed a collective sigh of relief when the former departed in the fifth over, driving Fuller high to Payne at mid-on with the score on 14.
Greg Smith was held at the wicket off a top-edged skier to give Miles his only success, Ned Eckersley drove Payne high to mid-off where Klinger took a fine catch and Matt Boyce succumbed to the same bowler, held by a tumbling Gareth Roderick behind the stumps as the visitors slipped to 67 for 4.
Realising steady accumulation was the order of the day, O'Brien advanced to 43 from 55 balls, only to be lured into a front foot indiscretion by off-spinner Smith, who induced O'Brien to chip to mid-on when a half-century appeared his for the taking.
With O'Brien went Leicestershire's best chance of registering a competitive total when with him. Shiv Thakor took the bait and hooked a bouncer from Fuller straight down the throat of Ian Cockbain at deep backward square, Michael Thornely was run out by Fuller's startling direct hit from short third man and Anthony Ireland drove Howell high to long-on as the Foxes further subsided to 120 for 8.
Just when it seemed Leicestershire might go down with scarcely a whimper, Rob Taylor and James Sykes put up some tail-end resistance in a stand of 26 for the ninth wicket. But Sykes was run out by Howell's throw from third man for 15 and Leicestershire's misery was complete when Robbie Williams edged Miles to Roderick, leaving Taylor high and dry on 27 not out.
Aware of Somerset's superior run rate, Gloucestershire's batsmen were understandably in a hurry and Hamish Marshall came out all guns blazing, smashing two fours and a six before falling to former team-mate Ireland, caught on the square leg boundary in pursuit of a second maximum.
Klinger has served as a crucial mainstay at the top of the order in this competition and the Australian came up with yet another innings of substance to render a sixth win in nine Group C contests a foregone conclusion.
Leicestershire's fate was all but sealed by a stand of 76 in 16 overs for the second wicket between Klinger and Chris Dent, whose innings of 31 in 43 balls featured some excellent back foot play. Cockbain came and went quickly, the victim of a bizarre run out, but veteran campaigner Alex Gidman saw the job through in partnership with his captain.
Fresh from scoring an unbeaten 131 in a losing cause against Somerset at Taunton 48 hours earlier, Klinger gave another chanceless master-class, accruing two sixes and eight fours in a 96-ball innings that confirmed Gloucestershire's superiority.