Wakely's timely half-century leads determined Northants effort

Leicestershire 6 for 0 trail Northamptonshire 299 (Wakely 65, Wright 4-78) by 293 runs

Alex Wakely made his first half-century since resigning the Northamptonshire captaincy to lead his side to a good opening day against Leicestershire at Wantage Road. Wakely’s 65 in testing conditions set Northants up to make 299 having been sent in before the visitors survived three overs to the close 6 for 0.

Wakely’s 76 on the first day of the season was becoming a distant memory with a high score in the Championship since then of only 28. Stepping down as captain didn’t bring immediate reward with an eight-ball duck at Durham in his previous innings, but here he battled away to make important runs against the moving ball.

He arrived in just the sixth over of the morning and flicked Mohammed Abbas through midwicket for his first boundary before imperiously pulling Neil Dexter’s first ball through the same region on his way to 36 not out by the lunch.

After the break, another pull brought up a second half-century of the season in 102 balls with eight fours before he was tremendously caught at second slip in Abbas’ first over of a new spell 20 minutes before tea. Trying to force off the back foot, Wakely flashed an edge towards the cordon where Colin Ackermann stuck up a left hand to claim a fine catch.

It ended a stand of 39 for the fourth wicket – one of several useful partnerships that Northants compiled. The ball moved all day on a green-tinged pitch and under heavy cloud and it was difficult to envisage the batsmen ever getting completely on top so to nudge the board along with good purpose – reaching 187 for 4 at one stage – was a solid effort.

There were few cheap wickets. Rob Newton fell to the new ball for just 5 but everyone else got a start. Ricardo Vasconcelos worked hard for 25 before lazily driving to gully. Temba Bavuma was always scratchy but got to 20, then Dieter Klein found his outside edge with a good delivery. Rob Keogh looked in good touch, striking five boundaries but fell over a full delivery from Chris Wright to be lbw for 34.

The theme continued on a day where it was hard to say any batsmen were really settled. Adam Rossington, now Northants’ Championship captain, made a breezy 45 – violently pulling Dexter over midwicket and repeating the trick against Klein to raise a first batting point. But Rossington was bowled by Will Davis and it began a slide from 210 for 5 to 250 for 9 as the second new ball claimed 3 for 7 in 13 balls.

But just when Northants were about to be rolled over Matt Coles, in his second match on loan from Essex, swung 41 in 34 balls including two mighty sixes – one over midwicket and the second over deep square – to almost claim a third batting bonus point before No. 11 Ben Sanderson chipped a catch back to Abbas.

But Coles should have been taken on the deep midwicket fence with the score at 265. It was one of at least seven catches that Leicestershire missed in a miserable display of fielding. Paul Horton at first slip, wicketkeeper Lewis Hill and Harry Dearden all missed two chances each as the visitors conceded an over par total given the conditions.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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