Leicestershire waste strong start

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Matthew Boyce

Matthew Boyce, pictured, and opening partner Will Jefferson got Leicestershire's first innings off to a great start at Grace Road, but the hosts collapsed to leave Gloucestershire in a strong position

Leicestershire face a desperate battle to avoid the follow-on against Gloucestershire at Grace Road, despite a career-best 119 from Matthew Boyce and a record opening partnership.

A dramatic collapse saw Leicestershire lose seven wickets for 77 runs in 20 overs and they finished the third day of the LV= County Championship Division Two match on 315 for nine - still needing another 40 runs to avoid being asked to bat again.

Leicestershire looked in no danger as they progressed smoothly to 236 for two in pursuit of Gloucestershire's first innings score of 504 for nine - but then seamers Jon Lewis and Ian Saxelby turned the game on its head with the second new ball.

Lewis took three wickets for two runs in 20 balls and Saxelby three for eight in 19 balls to rip the heart out of the home side's batting.

It undid all the earlier good work from Boyce and Will Jefferson, who looked in no discomfort at all as they shared an opening stand of 195 - a record for Leicestershire in games against Gloucestershire.

Having survived eight difficult overs yesterday evening, the opening pair remained together throughout the morning session as Gloucestershire toiled away on what was still a flat and easy-paced pitch.

Boyce, whose previous best score this season was 41, reached his half-century off 94 balls with eight boundaries while the more cautious Jefferson took 131 balls and hit six fours on his way to 50.

The tall opener failed to make it to three figures, however, and was dismissed for 90 when he was lbw pushing forward to off-spinner Kane Williamson.

Two runs later the New Zealander struck again, claiming the wicket of former Gloucestershire man Kadeer Ali in identical fashion.

But Josh Cobb joined forces with Boyce to take Leicestershire to 200 for two by the tea interval, with Boyce needing eight runs for his century.

The landmark arrived shortly after the break from 223 balls. It was the second hundred of Boyce’s career and he then went past his previous best score of 106, made against Warwickshire in 2008.

However, when the second new ball was taken at 226 for two, the game swung Gloucestershire's way.

Lewis claimed the wickets of Cobb, Boyce and Jigar Naik in a devastating spell, with Boyce caught behind as he drove outside the off stump.

Then Saxelby stepped in with the wickets of Andrew McDonald, Paul Dixey and Claude Henderson and suddenly the home side were in desperate trouble.

Nathan Buck also went before the close and it was left to Matthew Hoggard and Nadeem Malik to survive the final two overs in the gathering gloom.

Gloucestershire will fancy their chances of victory if they claim the final wicket quickly on the last day and enforce the follow on.

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