Gloucestershire 236 for 4 (van Buuren 79, Tavare 73*) v Leicestershire
Will Tavare and Graeme van Buuren registered half-centuries as Gloucestershire reached the close on 236 for 4 on the opening day of the Specsavers Championship match against Leicestershire at the Brightside Ground, Bristol.
The third-wicket pair batted throughout the afternoon session, adding 127 after Gloucestershire had been put in by opponents who failed to make best use of the new ball. But the Foxes fought back during the final session, removing allrounder van Buuren and George Hankins in quick succession and restricting the run rate thereafter to put themselves back in contention before bad light brought a premature conclusion at the end of the 88th over.
Determined to make amends after being shot out for 61 in their second innings and crashing to a heavy defeat in their Division Two opener at Kent last week, Gloucestershire summoned a gutsy response in their first home game of the season. No one demonstrated powers of recovery more admirably than Tavare, whose stubborn innings of 73 not out, chiseled from 213 balls and spanning just under four hours, characterised Gloucestershire's approach.
While van Buuren and Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft, who dominated an opening stand of 52 with Chris Dent, were prepared to play their shots and entertain a sparse Bank Holiday crowd, Tavare dropped anchor to provide the innings with the kind of gravitas that had been missing at Canterbury last time out.
Mustering concentration and defiance in equal measure, the Bristolian ensured Gloucestershire were able to bank their first batting bonus points of the season and assume the upper hand against a Leicestershire side following their mauling at the hands of Nottinghamshire.
Having helped shore up the innings in conditions conducive to swing following the departure of Bancroft and Dent prior to lunch, Tavare happily played second fiddle to the dashing van Buuren as the pair held sway during what turned out to be an afternoon of toil for Leicestershire's misfiring seam attack.
Promoted up the order in the absence of the unwell Gareth Roderick, van Buuren survived a searching examination from Ben Raine to stamp his authority and change the complexion of the game, carving 50 from 65 balls as the home side seized the initiative. Within sight of what would have been his third first-class hundred for the county, the 26-year-old edged a length ball from Raine behind for 79, cutting short an enterprising innings that comprised 128 balls and included 12 fours.
When Hankins chased a ball outside his off stump and was held at first slip off the bowling of Gavin Griffiths soon afterwards, Gloucestershire were 204 for 4 and in need of reassurance. It was provided by the dependable Tavare and veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Phil Mustard, who kept Leicestershire at bay until bad light hastened the end of proceedings.
Leicestershire elected to bowl first and wasted the new ball as their frontline seamers struggled to muster line and length on a consistent basis.
Griffiths claimed his maiden Championship wicket when bowling Bancroft for 32 with a superb inswinging yorker, while Richard Jones bowled Dent via an inside edge for 20. But Gloucestershire's openers had done enough to take the shine off the ball.
No doubt piqued at seeing four catches go down, Leicestershire captain Mark Cosgrove made a point when coming into the attack ahead of schedule in the 45th over. By that time, Gloucestershire had assumed a crucial foothold and van Buuren and Tavare were up and running.