Richardson hat-trick edges Worcs ahead
Worcestershire 265 for 5 (Samaraweera 99, Fell 84) trail Leicestershire 274 (Richardson 5-75) by nine runs
Alan Richardson and Thilan Samaraweera were the stars as Worcestershire gained the edge against Leicestershire at Grace Road. Veteran seamer Richardson claimed the first hat-trick of his career and Sri Lankan Samaraweera hit an unbeaten 99 as Worcestershire closed the second day nine runs ahead of the hosts.
With 38-year-old Richardson taking their last three wickets in three balls, Leicestershire were bowled out for 274, having added only four runs to their overnight score. Then, despite losing their first three wickets for 55 runs, Worcestershire recovered to close the second day on 265 for 5, with Samaraweera one run away from completing his second century against Leicestershire this season.
There was another excellent innings as well from 19-year-old Tom Fell, who earlier this month signed a two-year professional contract with Worcestershire. He was out for 84, just 11 runs short of posting his Championship-best score.
Fell and Samaraweera shared a fourth wicket stand of 181 in 56 overs and, at 236 for 3, Worcestershire looked to have a stranglehold on the game. But Shiv Thakor, the seventh bowler used by Leicestershire, brought them back into the match with two wickets in two overs. Fell, having faced 167 balls and hit 14 fours, edged behind to wicketkeeper, Niall O'Brien, and Joe Leach was brilliantly caught at slip by Greg Smith when Thakor again found the edge.
It meant the day started and ended with a flurry of wickets. Richardson, who had already picked up two wickets on the first day to take his total for the season past 50, struck with the last ball of his 24th over and then the first two of his next, to bag the first hat-trick of his long and successful career. He had Ollie Freckingham caught at slip and then nailed both Matthew Hoggard and Alex Wyatt lbw to finish with figures of 5 for 57.
Three more wickets fell before lunch - all of them lbw decisions. Openers Daryl Mitchell and Matthew Pardoe were Hoggard victims and Moeen Ali was trapped in front by Ben Raine. But Samaraweera and Fell dominated for the next three-and-a-half hours as the home attack toiled on a slow pitch.
Samaraweera reached his 50 off 98 balls with eight fours and Fell brought up his half-century off 97 balls with seven boundaries. Then Thakor's two late wickets gave Leicestershire a glimmer of hope again.