Raine gives further cause for optimism

Leicestershire 102 for 1 (Robson 52*) trail Northants 251 (Newton 71, Raine 4-55) by 149 runs

Leicestershire set up the opportunity to record a first County Championship win since September 2012 with a dominant opening day showing against Northamptonshire at Grace Road.

Home captain Mark Cosgrove won the toss to insert Northants and, although his attack initially failed to make full use of an invitingly green pitch, allrounder Ben Raine led the way with 4 for 55.

Raine, who penned a contract extension with Leicestershire earlier this week, twice found himself on a hat-trick as Rob Keogh and Rory Kleinveldt bagged golden ducks after he dismissed Stephen Peters and Rob Newton - Northants' leading scorers with 40 and 71 respectively in a total of 251.

The only setback in Leicestershire's post-tea response was Dan Redfern's departure for 40, as Angus Robson stylishly moved to 52 not out and brought up 102 for 1 with an on-driven four from the final ball of the day.

Northants are on a dismal winless streak of their own having been relegated from Division One without victory last term, although a pitch offering plenty of encouragement for the seamers suggests one of the ongoing slumps will end.

Australian paceman Clint McKay, making his Leicestershire debut in place of the injured Atif Sheikh, and new ball partner Charlie Shreck struggled for consistency early on as Peters and Richard Levi added 47 for the first wicket.

Levi cut and pulled consecutive fours in the 11th over before falling on 22 to McKay - his edge parried upwards by Tom Wells at third slip and snaffled by Cosgrove. Leicestershire negotiated their next task in the cordon in a more straightforward manner as visiting skipper Alex Wakely edged Shreck straight to Neil Pinner, who dived magnificently to help Raine see off Peters.

Keogh then misjudged a delivery that nipped back and found the stumps and Leicestershire continued to chip away after lunch - Adam Rossington edging Shreck to Cosgrove for 22 and Josh Cobb bowled by one that kept low from McKay for 13 on a tough return to the club he left last winter, leaving the score 155 for 6.

Newton remained and rebuilt alongside the typically expansive David Willey in an attractive seventh-wicket stand of 65 but Raine returned and trapped Newton and Kleinveldt in front in the 62nd over.

Willey elected to go for his shots in the next set of six and promptly clumped Wells to cover on 36. That dismissal delayed the tea interval and Redfern ended Olly Stone's resistance by bowling the tail-ender with his first off-break of the match.

Redfern operated with authority on the drive having been dropped at slip by Wakley off Kleinveldt early in the Leicestershire response, although the same fielder just about atoned for his error with a juggled catch to reward Azharullah.

At the other end, Robson demonstrated that his favourite cut shot was in fine working order on a sun-kissed evening of cautious optimism for the Grace Road.

Leics 4th innings Partnerships

1st16DJ RedfernAJ Robson
2nd42EJH EckersleyAJ Robson
3rd9MJ CosgroveEJH Eckersley
4th26EJH EckersleyND Pinner
5th59NJ O'BrienEJH Eckersley
6th34NJ O'BrienTJ Wells
7th13NJ O'BrienBA Raine
8th25CJ McKayBA Raine
9th37CJ McKayOH Freckingham
10th22CE ShreckOH Freckingham