Eckersley holds up Hampshire

Lv County Championship

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Ned Eckersley's unbeaten 99 could not stop Leicestershire sliding towards an LV= County Championship Division Two defeat against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.

Eckersley went to the brink of his third first-class century as Hampshire were also frustrated by the weather.

Bad light and rain wiped 24 overs from the third day's allocation as Leicestershire fought tenaciously to reach 182 for five - still trailing by 129 - and take a one-sided match into a fourth day.

The visitors began their second innings needing 312 to make Hampshire bat a second time with the pitch still offering help to the pace bowlers and, later, the spin of Danny Briggs.

Adam Wheater, James Vince & Ned Eckersley

Ned Eckersley's unbeaten 99 was Leicestershire's only bright spot as Hampshire edged towards victory at the Ageas Bowl

Sean Ervine made the first breakthrough for Hampshire when he pinned Michael Thornely lbw for 28 but it was their only success before the lunch interval.

Niall O'Brien batted almost 28 overs for his 17 before James Vince clutched on to a smart catch at second slip off Chris Wood.

There was worse to follow for Leicestershire when captain Ramnaresh Sarwan followed O'Brien to the pavilion soon after.

Sarwan managed only three before driving James Tomlinson, who took 4-23 in the first innings, to Michael Carberry at point.

Leicestershire slumped to 95 for four when Josh Cobb was held by Vince's reflex catch at short-leg and only then did a minor recovery begin, inspired by Eckersley.

With Matthew Boyce as his fifth-wicket partner, Eckersley dominated a stand of 64 in 26 overs and, for the first time during two days in the field, Hampshire were struggling to make the most of their dominance.

Briggs eventually ended the partnership when Boyce, who had made 30, drove to Wood at backward point, leaving Leicestershire 159 for five.

Shiv Thakor supported Eckersley until the close, but much depends on the pair if Hampshire are to be denied an opening-fixture victory after being on top for so long.

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