Cricket: Smith and Simmons set target for Lara

Leicestershire 389 & 291-6 dec; Warwickshire 276 & 46-0
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AN INNINGS of splendid and forthright Scottish determination by Dougie Brown enabled Warwickshire to save the follow on with eight wickets down. Leicestershire were then indebted to the spirited strokeplay of Ben Smith, for the second time in the match, and Phil Simmons to leave Warwickshire a target of 405 in a minimum of 109 overs.

Warwickshire had to survive 13 overs last night and Nick Knight and Mark Wagh made a most uneasy start against Alan Mullally and Chris Lewis. Then, Wagh began to time the ball well and they go into the last day needing 359 more to win with all their second-innings wickets intact.

On a wearing pitch where the ball is beginning to keep low, it may well be that the weather forecast, uncompromisingly bad for today, will be Leicestershire's greatest enemy. If they can pick up 24 points they will overtake Surrey at the top of the table, barring miracles at Headingley.

Although Brown and Neil Smith added 62 in the first 10 overs of the day, Leicestershire will have had high hopes of enforcing the follow-on when Simmons held on to a fierce return catch from Smith and, one run later, Keith Piper was bowled round his legs by Matthew Brimson. This made the score 220 for 8 with 20 runs still needed, but Brown and Ashley Giles saw the danger pass.

It was clear from Leicestershire's approach in their second innings that they wanted to get Warwickshire in again before the end of the third day. It is never easy to judge a declaration when Brian Lara is playing for the opposition and the likelihood of rain further complicated the issue.

The tendency of most captains is to bat on for too long and often the best answer is arrived at when the side wanting to declare is bowled out, sparring the captain the decision. If the side batting last thinks it has a chance of winning, they will be that much more likely to get themselves into trouble in pursuit of victory. It is a fine balancing operation.

Leicestershire's first two second-innings wickets fell to Ed Giddins. Iain Sutcliffe then played some good strokes before he became the first of Piper's two stumping victims. After that, Smith and Simmons put on exactly 100 in 17 overs and Lewis went on until the lead had topped 400.

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