Smith ton leaves Gloucestershire facing defeat
Gloucestershire 159 and 78 for 5 v Leicestershire 295 and 351 for 4 dec.
Greg Smith scored a career best unbeaten 158 as Leicestershire set Gloucestershire a mountainous target of 488 to win their County Championship Division Two clash at Grace Road.
But, by the close, Leicestershire were clear favourites to clinch their sixth victory of the season, having reduced the visitors to 78 for 5 after taking the first three wickets for just five runs in the opening six overs.
It was 21-year-old Smith, however, who took the plaudits as he progressed smoothly to a maiden championship century that steered Leicestershire to 351 for four before the declaration came half an hour before tea. It was a magnificent effort from Smith, who is still studying at Durham University and joined up with Leicestershire in July.
This was only his fourth championship game of the season but he has totalled 405 runs from those matches at an average of 81. He began the third day on 70 not out and looked composed and secure as the home side steadily added to their overnight lead of 283.
Smith was given excellent support by Jacques Du Toit, who reached his 50 off 83 balls and looked in little trouble until chipping an easy catch to mid-on off Jon Lewis having reached 70. It brought to an end a second-wicket stand of 128.
Gloucestershire's bowling lacked any menace or penetration and Smith, who scored a century for Durham University against Nottinghamshire earlier in the season, reached three figures for the first time in championship cricket with a crisp off drive that brought him three runs. His century contained nine boundaries and came off 202 balls.
By the time the declaration came Smith had batted for six and a half hours, faced 324 balls and not offered a single chance. It was a marathon knock that emphasised Smith's potential. It left Gloucestershire facing the daunting task of scoring 488 runs for victory or surviving a minimum 135 overs to avoid defeat. They could hardly have made a worse start with their first three wickets falling for five runs in the space of 20 balls.
Jonathan Batty was caught at gully off Nathan Buck and then Will Porterfield fell when he drove the same bowler to mid off. And in the next over from Matthew Hoggard, Chris Dent bagged a pair when he was trapped lbw. Hamish Marshall and Alex Gidman provided some resistance with a stand of 66 before Marshall was caught behind by Tom New trying to cut left arm spinner Claude Henderson.
It seemed that Gloucestershire's miserable day could hardly get any worse. But it did with Chris Taylor prodding a catch to silly mid-off against the bowling of Jigar Naik off the last ball of the day leaving the visitors at 78 for five, still 410 runs behind.