Leicestershire play it safe and Northants bat their way to draw

FIVE STAR - teenager Saif Zaib claimed a five-wicket haul

FIVE STAR - teenager Saif Zaib claimed a five-wicket haul

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Northants batted out for a bore draw on the final afternoon of the Specsavers County Championship Division Two at the County Ground after Leicestershire declined to offer a reasonable chase.

The promotion-chasing Foxes set the home side a mammoth 415 to win in just 51 overs, so Northants just played out time for a 10-point draw at 118 for one.

The visitors’ 11 points sees them go second and keeps them in touch with the promotion race, with division two leaders Essex to play next week at Grace Road.

Hopes were raised of a last-day run chase after Leicestershire resumed 49 without losss, a lead of 177.

But they made only steady progress in the morning session and even when they were 319 in front by lunch with 63 overs remaining, they felt the need to add a few more into the afternoon before eventually declaring 292 for six.

Northants might have hoped for a chase to tune up for Thursday’s 50-over Royal London One Day Cup quarter-final at home to Surrey, but the size of the chase left them with no option but to bat out for a draw, which they did only for the loss of first innings double centurion Rob Newton, bowled by Ben Raine for 22.

The day began full of intrigue, but a tedious morning session ensued.

Teenager Saif Zaib, with his left-arm spin, was the only beneficiary, picking up his maiden first-class wicket by having Angus Robson caught at midwicket for 84. He also denied Paul Horton a third century of the season by a single run, sharply held by Rory Kleinveldt at slip.

Zaib in fact went on to complete a five-wicket haul as Mark Cosgrove slapped a full toss to extra-cover shortly after lunch, Mark Pettini was stumped by Rob Keogh - who took the gloves to allow David Murphy to bowl - and Neil Dexter was lbw.

Zaib finished with five for 148, having bowled 26 overs unchanged from the Lynn Wilson End.

It was the only noteworthy performance of the day.

It had been thought a run chase would be agreed after Northants called in their first-innings 122 behind on the third evening.

But there was no sign of a charge from Leicestershire and only in the final overs of the morning session were shots played with any great intent, Horton and Robson swinging Zaib over long-on.

Northants only resorted to declaration bowling later in the morning when Alex Wakely and Adam Rossington sent down overs.

Murphy also removed the pads and picked up a maiden first-class wicket when Ned Eckersley lifted to Alex Wakely at long-on.

Scoreboard

Leicestershire - 519 all out (Pettini 117, Cosgrove 111, Eckersley 107, Sanderson 6-58) & 292-6 dec (Horton 99, Robson 84, Zaib 5-148)

Northants - 397-7 dec (Newton 202no, Keogh 50, Zaib 43) & 118-1 (Wakely 53no, Murphy 36no)

Match drawn - Northants 10pts, Leicestershire 11pts