Lancs and Leics battle to a draw at Aigburth
Lancashire and Leicestershire battled out a tense draw on the final day at Liverpool with the visitors on 151-5 in their second innings, still 10 runs behind when the players shook hands at 6pm.
Having followed-on yesterday evening, Leicestershire resumed their second innings on 5-1 needing a further 156 runs to make Lancashire bat again.
Foxes’ captain Paul Horton produced a resolute three-hour innings of 49 from 151 balls and was well supported by nightwatchman Callum Parkinson who defied the Red Rose attack for 80 minutes before edging Richard Gleeson to Liam Livingstone at second slip after making 15.
That left Leicestershire on 30-2 four overs after lunch, the interval having been taken early at 12.45pm with two stoppages for rain taking 14 overs out of the morning session.
Horton was joined by Hassan Azad following Parkinson’s departure and the pair continued the Foxes rear-guard action with a dogged partnership of 57 across 30 overs during the afternoon.
It proved to be a tough day for the Lancashire bowlers with the Foxes batsmen concentrating on survival, and skipper Dane Vilas kept the pressure on by rotating his pace attack largely from the River End of the ground in the hunt of a breakthrough while Livingstone tied up the Pavilion End with some accurate spin, and he was unlucky on several occasions.
But it was Livingstone who did find a way through when bowling Horton just before tea to leave Leicestershire on 87-3 with a minimum of 35 overs remaining.
Hassan Azad and Neil Dexter survived several large appeals to slowly add 47 runs before Azad nicked a Steven Croft delivery to Vilas to depart for 39 just before the start of the last hour.
Dexter followed him back after falling lbw for 27 to Onions with the new ball, but Mark Cosgrove and Colin Ackermann held firm for the remaining 15 overs.
It was a great effort by the Lancashire bowlers who fought hard all day, getting through 94 overs despite the rain delays on a slowish pitch that flattened out during the afternoon with Livingstone bowling an unbroken 36 over spell of 1-40 from the Pavilion End.
There were several close calls to catches in and around the wicket as edges either evaded the fielders or bounced just in front, plus a couple of sharp chances that failed to stick, but it was a good effort nevertheless by Lancashire in trying to force a result.
The draw sees Lancashire gain 13 points and stay top of the Division Two table in the Specsavers County Championship on 85 points ahead of Glamorgan (74 points) and Sussex (73) after 5 games.
Graham Onions admitted the Red Rose bowlers hadn’t ‘left much out there’ after spending two consecutive days attempting bowl Leicestershire out twice.
“There’s a few sore bodies in the dressing room,” he said.
“We gave everything, but the pitch kind of defeated us a little and obviously the weather as well.
“We’ve tried our best, and that’s all you can do.”
And as Onions pointed out: ““Leicestershire weren’t going to just roll over. They put a lot of hard work in to save the match today.
“I think we are playing some really good cricket. I thought we batted brilliantly to get to 449 here and we bowled well.
“There was probably a period of around 15 overs or so yesterday where we lost it a bit but give credit to Dieter Klein and Callum Parkinson for playing nicely as well. You’ve just got to hold your hands up (when that happens).
“On a relatively slow pitch the lower order batters can try and hang on in a little bit.”
Eleven wickets fell yesterday, but only four went today and Onions said: “We knew there would be showers around today but we went out there with the mentality that you want to win and that you are going to win.
“We were so close. I felt that there were opportunities to win the game but it wasn’t to be.”
And Onions admitted he had felt the benefit of being rested last week as part of the squad rotation.
“I came back feeling refreshed,” he admitted. “And that last little spell at the end with the new ball, thinking it’s up to me to try and win the game, I really enjoyed. I’ve still got that fire in my belly to do that. I don’t think that will ever change.
“Coming back from pre-season we barely had a seam attack fit whereas now we’ve pretty much get everyone raring to go apart from Liam Hurt.
“We’ve got a really good squad and can play fresh players all the time."
Lancashire next travel to Worcester and then go to Derby the following week, and Onions said: “Overall we are well placed. We’ve got two really important games coming up, so we’ve got to give our all before we then have a week off and see where we are.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell
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