Match Report - Leicestershire v Gloucestershire Day 1
18 June 2019
A partnership of 320, a first-class record for the county’s second wicket, between Neil Dexter and Hassan Azad put Leicestershire in a strong position after the Foxes had been put in to bat by Gloucestershire in the Specsavers County Championship match at the Fischer County Ground.
Dexter’s 180 was a career-best for the 34-year-old, coming in his 261st first-class innings: Azad’s 137 a first championship century for the 25-year-old, in only his seventh championship match.
Gloucestershire captain Chris Dent’s decision to exercise the away team’s prerogative to bowl first was not an entirely unreasonable one, given the amount of rain that had fallen in the East Midlands over the previous week, but the pitch, though slightly tinged with green, looked to be a good one, and played that way.
The Foxes did lose Paul Horton early, Chadd Sayers picking up his first wicket for Gloucestershire with an out-swinging delivery that Horton edged, wicket-keeper Gareth Roderick holding the catch diving to his right in front of first slip.
But with Azad playing solidly at the other end, Dexter went for his shots from the start, particularly off the front foot. Ryan Higgins was hit for four consecutive boundaries as the South African went to his 50 off just 57 deliveries.
The pair accelerated after lunch. Azad reached his 50 off 128 balls, and a few balls later, Dexter brought up his century, which included 19 boundaries, off 134 deliveries.
By tea they had comfortably beaten Leicestershire’s previous record second wicket partnership against Gloucestershire, 153 by Barry Dudleston and Chris Balderstone at Bristol in 1979.
The runs continued to flow after tea as the partnership passed Leicestershire’s previous championship second wicket record, 289*, set by Balderstone and David Gower against Essex in 1981, before – pleasingly - expunging their first-class second wicket record, set by Azad and Ateeq Javid against Loughborough MCCU at the start of this season.
David Payne found a good lifting delivery to make the long-awaited breakthrough, having Azad caught behind, before Dexter’s tired push at Shaw saw Roderick pick up a third victim. The wicket-keeper made it four out of four when Mark Cosgrove prodded at and edged another Shaw delivery, and shortly before the close nightwatchman Will Davis spooned a catch into the covers.