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Foakes to the fore on Essex debut

Leicestershire CCC

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Ben Foakes

England Under-19 batsman Ben Foakes struck 93 on his LV= County Championship debut to help Essex secure a first-innings lead at Grace Road

Essex teenager Ben Foakes narrowly missed out on a century as the LV= County Championship Division Two game against Leicestershire was left finely balanced at the end of day three at Grace Road.

England Under-19 international Foakes made an eye-catching 93 on his championship debut to help Essex to a total of 409 and a first-innings lead of 37.

But with Ramnaresh Sarwan making his second half-century of the match, Leicestershire closed on 148 for three to lead by 111 runs going into the final day. Sarwan was still there on 61.

Foakes, handed a maiden appearance in the absence of both Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara, became one of seamer Wayne White's five victims when he edged behind shortly after lunch.

Sarwan and Will Jefferson then steered the home side back into the game with a third-wicket stand of 97, halted when the latter was out for 49 just before the close as bad light and rain brought an early end with 6.2 overs remaining.

After resuming this morning on 239 for five, still 133 behind, Essex enjoyed a productive first session, adding 121 runs in 32 overs for the loss of just one wicket.

The batsman to go was James Foster, who received a virtually unplayable rising delivery from Matthew Hoggard and edged behind. His share of a stand of 87 with the impressive Foakes was 26.

Foakes looked untroubled, and cover-drove White to the boundary twice in one over.

He reached 50 from 72 balls by on-driving Matthew Hoggard to the ropes for his ninth boundary.

He went into lunch on 93 but failed to add to his score after the break, edging a fine delivery from White to wicketkeeper Ned Eckersley in the third over of the afternoon.

Foakes had hit 14 boundaries and faced 139 balls in an excellent debut performance.

A typically aggressive knock of 35 from Graham Napier kept the scoreboard moving, but White brought the Essex innings to a close with the wickets of David Masters and Charl Willoughby to finish with 5-74 - his third five-wicket haul of the season. Wicketkeeper Eckersley also impressed with five catches.

Matt Boyce and Greg Smith went cheaply when Leicestershire batted again, but Sarwan, who reached 50 off 73 balls with seven fours, and Jefferson regained the initiative.

A swinging delivery from Willoughby eventually accounted for Jefferson, who edged behind.

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