Essex 281 and 101 for 1 (Mickleburgh 47*) trail Leicestershire 433 (Eckersley 110, Robson 94, Cobb 70, Panesar 6-111) by 51 runs

Essex battled back on day three with an impressive unbeaten partnership from Jaik Mickleburgh and Greg Smith to take a big slice out of Leicestershire's first-innings lead of 152 at Chelmsford.

After Tom Westley was lost for just 3 at the beginning of Essex's second innings, Mickleburgh and Smith frustrated the Leicestershire bowlers by putting on 98 runs. Mickleburgh will be on 47 and Smith on 43 when they return to the crease on Wednesday.

Leicestershire put themselves in good position to win away from Grace Road for the first time since 2010. They were 255 for 2 at the end of the second day and trailed by just 26 runs but added on 178 runs on Tuesday before being bowled out for 433.

Ned Eckersley, who had resumed his innings on 104, only scored six more runs before he became a first Championship wicket for medium-pacer Tanveer Sikandar. With Leicestershire having moved past 300, Angus Robson fell six short of a first century, becoming Monty Panesar's second wicket.

The momentum appeared to swing Essex's way when England spinner Panesar had Michael Thornely caught at slip for 21 by Mark Pettini. That was the first of three wickets that Panesar would snare in four balls.

Two balls after dismissing Thornley, he bowled Rob Taylor for 2 and then had Jigar Naik picked up by Ben Foakes at bat-pad with his next delivery.

Leicestershire were 356 for 7 at that point but they moved back into the ascendancy when scoring 77 more runs before being bowled out, captain Josh Cobb scoring 70. Panesar ended up with six wickets for 111 runs with Tanveer Sikandar finishing with two for 90.

Essex had a shaky start to their second innings when Westley edged to Eckersley off Charlie Shreck after scoring just three runs. Mickleburgh and Smith then steadied proceedings for Essex, putting their impressive partnership of 98 to leave the hosts trailing by just 51 with nine wickets remaining heading into the final day.