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Essex avoid another collapse

Essex clawed their way out of another batting crisis against Leicestershire on the second day of the LV= County Championship game at Grace Road, just a week after they were bowled out for 20 by Lancashire.

Essex plunged to 28 for four, with veteran seamer Matthew Hoggard claiming all four at a cost of just 12 runs in his first appearance since April.

But Mark Pettini, recalled to the side after last week's embarrassment, hit his first championship half-century of the season to lead the recovery, and Essex closed on 196 for six in reply to Leicestershire's 302.

Earlier, on a rain-interrupted day, Graham Napier claimed Leicestershire's last three wickets to finish with career-best championship figures of 7-90 in 30.4 overs.

Leicestershire added another 34 runs to their overnight 268 for seven with Michael Thornely completing a half-century off 102 balls with five fours and a six, before being pinned lbw by Napier for 53.

Ollie Freckingham and Alex Wyatt were also Napier victims, but a boundary by Hoggard earned Leicestershire a third batting bonus point.

Then the 36-year-old former England man went to work with the ball after his lengthy absence from the side because of a hip injury. In between the showers, that sent the players off the field on four occasions, Hoggard had Tom Westley caught behind, trapped Nick Browne lbw next ball, found the edge of Jaik Mickleburgh's bat to induce a catch at gully and bowled Owais Shah with an absolute beauty that hit the off stump.

It was an inspired 12-over spell from Hoggard, but once he came off, Essex began to fight their way back. Pettini and Ryan ten Doeschate shared a vital sixth-wicket stand of 85 in 25 overs as the home attack became ragged.

The Essex pair put on 48 in one eight-over spell, but the partnership was broken when ten Doeschate was caught at slip trying to cut a lifting delivery from Wyatt. He had made 40 off 69 balls with six fours.

Pettini reached his fifty off 133 balls with six fours, and James Foster showed his intent with a six off Naik as he joined Pettini in another substantial partnership of 78. But shortly before the close, Wyatt had Pettini lbw for 72 off 175 balls and, at stumps, Foster was unbeaten on 45 with Essex trailing by 106 runs.

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