Derbyshire hold on for nailbiting draw
Derbyshire's late-order batsmen staged a magnificent rearguard action to deny Leicestershire victory on a tense final day in the LV= County Championship Division Two clash at Grace Road.
Leicestershire looked to be cruising when they had Derbyshire seven wickets down midway through the afternoon with the visitors still needing 39 runs to avoid an innings defeat.
But with Greg Smith hitting a half-century, Derbyshire dug in and lost only two more wickets in the next 42 overs to reach 236 for nine - a lead of 34 - at which point the teams shook hands on a draw with only 15 minutes of play remaining.
It really was a brave effort from the Derbyshire tail-enders with Azeem Rafiq scoring just 18 from 122 balls as he shared a ninth-wicket partnership of only 15 in 22 overs with Tim Groenewald, who finished unbeaten on nine from 87 deliveries.
It all added up to a frustrating day for Leicestershire, who had looked set to gain quick revenge for the innings defeat they suffered at Derby only two weeks ago.
Nobody worked harder in a bid to secure that than veteran left-arm spinner Claude Henderson who, in a marathon 50-over spell, bowled unchanged from the Bennett End and finished with 3-84. Henderson got through 96 overs in the match, taking seven wickets.
The last day saw 108 overs bowled and for much of it Leicestershire were well on top after Derbyshire had resumed on 17 without loss, 185 behind.
An early wicket for Matthew Hoggard, who trapped Wes Durston lbw, gave Leicestershire the start they wanted and when Henderson was brought on to bowl with half an hour gone the home side begun to turn the screw.
Henderson and off-spinner Naik, who took 3-68 in 31 overs, found plenty of turn and bounce from the pitch and wickets began to fall on a regular basis.
Henderson snared Wayne Madsen and Usman Khawaja, for 25, to leave Derbyshire 84 for three at lunch and they lost four more wickets during the afternoon session.
Dan Redfearn was caught at slip off Naik, who then bowled Chesney Hughes for 32, and Luke Sutton was taken at slip off Henderson before Jonathan Clare was caught by substitute wicketkeeper Paul Dixey off Naik.
That left Derbyshire at 163 for seven with 40 minutes to go before tea, but Smith proved defiant - reaching his fifty from 88 balls before providing another catch to Dixey off seamer Nathan Buck soon after the interval on 52.
However, Leicestershire were then denied by Rafiq and Groenewald and, although Hoggard dismissed Rafiq, it was too little too late as the visitors hung on in for a battling draw.