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Eckersley produces crafty knock for Foxes

Worcestershire CCC

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Ned Eckersley again made New Road a stage for his batting talent as Leicestershire blunted Worcestershire's hopes of pressing for a win with their spinners on day three of this rain-hit LV= County Championship Division Two clash.

The home side set out their stall by declaring on 320 for seven after a maiden championship century for Thilan Samaraweera but Eckersley's undefeated 108 took Leicestershire to 229 for two. They were still 91 behind when bad light brought a premature close.

The 23-year-old's third first-class century, a well-crafted innings containing 14 fours from 186 deliveries, provided a marked contrast to his explosive performance on this ground in August last year.

On that occasion, Eckersley smashed seven sixes in an unbeaten 72 from 44 balls as he turned impending defeat into a memorable 40-over victory.

A return visit offered a new challenge facing Shaaiq Choudhry and Moeen Ali in helpful conditions for the spin duo.

Slow left-armer Choudhry, playing for Worcestershire at home in the championship for the first time, made a breakthrough by bowling Michael Thornely for 17 after an opening partnership of 51 with Niall O'Brien.

In general, however, Leicestershire played the slow bowlers well and O'Brien, although restricted to a couple of fours, featured in a stand of 55 with Eckersley before he was bowled for 46.

This was Moeen's 100th first-class wicket and soon afterwards he might have had another when Ramnaresh Sarwan was dropped at short midwicket.

It proved to be costly for Worcestershire as the West Indies batsman reached 46 not out and helped Eckersley through to his third first-class hundred. Their stand was worth 123 at the close.

Earlier, Samaraweera's 100 not out for Worcestershire displayed the supreme pedigree of a man with in excess of 5,000 Test runs to his name for Sri Lanka.

His first innings for the county at New Road was technically proficient but rarely eye-catching. After passing 50 he went through more than 30 overs without scoring a boundary and the clip off his legs that brought up the hundred was only his ninth four in over five hours.

Worcestershire resumed on 294 for seven and claimed a third batting bonus point with Choudhry making 32 not out in an unbroken stand of 63 with Samaraweera.

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