Cosgrove ton sets up Leicestershire lead
Leicestershire 372 lead Northamptonshire 325 by 47 runs
Mark Cosgrove's second consecutive century and a breezy 95 from Niall O'Brien helped Leicestershire fight back from 34 for four to take a lead of 47 at Wantage Road. Cosgrove's 110 mirrored the captain's knock played by Alex Wakely on day one and saw Leicestershire recover to make 372.
Losing nightwatchman Rob Sayer in the fourth over of the day saw Leicestershire fall into deep trouble but, just as Northamptonshire fought back on the first day, the visitors responded with healthy middle-order partnerships.
Cosgrove was the mainstay. He laid the groundwork in an intense morning session where 79 runs were ground out. But in unbroken afternoon sunshine and temperatures rising towards 30 degrees, batting became much easier and Leicestershire made healthy progress
Cosgrove took lunch on 65 not out, passing fifty in 81 balls, but then became a bystander for a jaunty innings from O'Brien. After the stand was ended, Cosgrove began once more to play his strokes and lifted Rob Keogh handsomely down the ground for his only six to move to 99. A third Championship century of the season was raised shortly after. He fell five overs into the second new ball as Rory Kleinveldt returned to complete a third five-wicket haul of the season, trapping Cosgrove lbw for 110, three short of his best score for Leicestershire.
He shared three healthy middle-order partnerships, replicating the first afternoon recovery made by Northamptonshire. The first of those was instigated by O'Brien, whose aggression straight after lunch provided much-need impetus into the Leicestershire innings. Busy at the crease, he totally dominated a stand of 116 for the sixth wicket. He took eight from the first over after the break and 120 runs came in 20 overs after lunch.
Two cuts flew over the slips before a flourishing cover drive off Rory Kleinveldt and a top-edged hook brought him an eighth boundary and fifty in just 42 balls. There was no let-up as the Northants attack began to toil. O'Brien was cruising to a first century of the season before pulling a long-hop from Rob Keogh towards deep-backward square leg where a stunning catch diving forward was taken by David Willey - one of four substitute fielders used by Northants, including head coach David Ripley.
One of those fielders was needed after a serious-looking injury to Steven Crook. Chasing around the boundary he tripped over the rope and immediately went down holding his right ankle. A stretcher was needed to carry him off the ground and he went to hospital for a scan - his participation in T20 Finals Day next Saturday is now in doubt.
The regular substitutes earned their fee on a long hot afternoon as the match returned to an even keel. Both innings were remarkably similar. Northants were 42 for four on day one but Leicestershire found themselves worse off before they also found a recovery. Cosgrove and Aadil Ali laid a platform with a stand of 71 for the fifth wicket; Ali was most obdurate, taking 60 balls to reach double figures and unlike his last performance against Derbyshire, could not take his careful start to a more meaningful score but the time he ate up paid dividends for his side later in the day.
Clint McKay biffed them to a first-innings lead with his maiden Championship half-century for Leicestershire before Azharullah returned for the final over the day and picked up his 300th first-class wicket when No. 11 Charlie Shreck edged to Richard Levi at second slip, ending a tenth wicket stand of 47.