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Report: Leicestershire vs Indians – Day 3

Robson, Smith score tons as Leics end the match with a lead over the Indians

Angus Robson (126) and Greg Smith (101) made merry against the Indian bowlers to take Leicestershire to 349 when stumps were drawn at the end of Day 3. The captains decided to shake hands with an hour and 22 overs to go in the match.

The final session began with centurions Robson and Smith retiring from their innings, making way for Dan Redfern (58) and Michael Thornely (23*) in the middle.

Ishant Sharma, who was taken for 58 runs in his eight overs, came back strongly to claim two wickets in his final over and hence finished with 9-0-64-2. He got Redfern caught at mid-off while Tom Wells edged one to first slip.

Pankaj Singh (11-3-46-1) and Ravindra Jadeja (11-2-57-0) bowled the most number of overs while R Ashwin made a late appearance in the match, bowling two overs of the last four.

After the second day of the match was washed out, the Indian bowlers came out to bowl under the overcast morning skies on Day-3.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pankaj Singh opened the bowling and had pretty contrasting first session.

Bhuvi was on an all-out attacking mode, often bowling with four slips, a gully and a point. He bowled fuller and swung the ball. In the first over, Bhuvi got Angus Robson to edge one only to watch the ball race away to the fence past the clip cordon. There were a couple of close lbw shouts as well but no wicket for the seamer.

Bhuvi’s extremely attacking field gave Robson a better chance to clear the ropes, which he did. By lunch, he had conceded 46 runs from seven overs, including 10 boundaries. Robson was the batsman who scored all the boundaries off Bhuvi.

Pankaj, on the other hand, began with two maiden overs and got rid of Leicestershire captain, Matthew Boyce in the eighth over. It was a stunning one-handed catch by Ajinkya Rahane at third slip that got the Indians their only wicket in the session. After bowling five tight overs, Pankaj got clobbered for three fours by Greg Smith in his sixth to end his first spell with 6-2-22-1.

After the extended lunch, Ishant resumed the proceedings for India and struggled with his rhythm. In his first two overs, he went for 27 runs, bowled six front foot no-balls and got hit for five fours. Shami, who partnered Ishant at the other end, started off with a sharp and quick first over.

Shami looked the best of the Indian bowlers in the post-lunch session as sunlight emerged from amidst the clouds, rendering the conditions better for batting. He bowled full and fast, keeping it tight and in control. Before he went off the field, Shami had delivered figures of 6-1-25-0.

Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey came on to the field with an hour left in the session. While Aaron bowled six overs, Ishwar bowled three. With 10 minutes to go to Tea, Ravindra Jadeja was introduced into the attack. His two overs fetched 17 runs, including the successive straight sixes by Smith to bring up his century.

Shirin Sadikot

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Report: Leicestershire vs Indians – Day 1

Indian batsmen make most of the first batting practice opportunity

Indians: 333 for 4 (two retired) declared after 90 overs

Ajinkya Rahane 47 not out (73 balls, seven 4s)

Rohit Sharma 43 not out (68 balls five 4s, one 6s)

Team India arrived at Grace Road, the ground they are pretty familiar by now, having practiced there for four days. MS Dhoni walked in for toss, relaxed and calm and upon calling it right and electing to bat, joked India will be “fielding their usual 14”.

Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan got India off to a cautious start after Shikhar was dropped in the slips in the first over, off Anthony Ireland. As the two settled down, they left the ball well outside the off stump, looked more assured at the crease and negotiated the slight swing without fuss.

With majority of the group of spectators donning the Indian blue and cheering for Team India with the traditional dhol beats, the visitors probably felt more at home than the local boys of Leicestershire. In fact, the morning began with a loud cheer welcoming the Indian players on the field.

Basking in sunshine, Grace Road wore the look of a quaint little cricket venue whose quiet was only broken by the thwack of bat on ball and the applauding fans.

The openers put 46 in 15 overs, immediately after which Vijay nicked one to gully to give Leicestershire and Ireland their first wicket. Gautam Gambhir walked in at No. 3 for India amid enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

While Gambhir played himself in with a few prods and pushes, Shikhar played some exquisite drives and cuts. The senior of the left-handers joined the show soon with a cracking square drive to fetch his first boundary. Soon came a gorgeous punch through the covers. Shikhar got into his elements with a flurry of cover drives and cuts, and brought his half-century in 79 balls.

The Indian batsmen got a good working over from Atif Sheikh, a left-arm fast bowler who is yet to play for Leicestershire first XI. Soon after lunch, a sharp short ball from Sheikh struck Dhawan on his right arm. In what was more a precautionary step, the physio took Shikhar off the field, retired hurt.

Gambhir and Pujara were tested too by Sheikh’s sharp bounce and pace but did well to negotiate him and form a 49-run stand off 70 balls.

Gambhir, soon after bringing up his fifty, retired for 54 off 101 balls. His was a typically gritty knock one would associate with the left-hander.

Virat Kohli joined Pujara after Gambhir’s departure and the duo looked very comfortable in the middle. Virat was bowled through the gate by Shiv Thakor for 29 soon after Tea.

In the last session the sun made way for a light covering of clouds and the temperature dropped considerably. The ball started to move a little more as Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane handled it with patience. Unbeaten at Tea on 37, Pujara completed his half-century in the 70th over of the day, and just like Gambhir, retired out soon after, for 57 (98 balls).

Rohit Sharma came in with an attacking mindset to evoke a loud cheer from the spectators when he lofted off-spinner James Sykes for the first six of the innings. A few more fours – a smash through midwicket and a guide past point and a languid drive through the covers – later the crowd was chanting Rohit’s name.

The Indians declared their innings after the stipulated 90 overs on the day with the score at 333 for 4 (Gambhir and Pujara retired).

Shirin Sadikot

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