DeFreitas denies Lancashire win

Lancashire's best-laid plans came to nothing here yesterday and the win they needed to maintain their championship hopes never materialised. As foreshadowed, saving the match was always a possibility on this pitch and Aftab Habib (73) and Philip DeFreitas, with anaccomplished unbeaten century, played the innings that did it comfortably enough for Leicestershire.

Lancashire's best-laid plans came to nothing here yesterday and the win they needed to maintain their championship hopes never materialised. As foreshadowed, saving the match was always a possibility on this pitch and Aftab Habib (73) and Philip DeFreitas, with anaccomplished unbeaten century, played the innings that did it comfortably enough for Leicestershire.

Following their earlier efforts, not to mention DeFreitas' with the ball, this was a massive contribution, though Leicestershire would have been distraught if their batting had disintegrated on a pitch which more or less anaesthetised the Lancashire spinners.

Apart from its lack of pace and bounce, this was probably a pretty good surface for a four-day match. But even on the final day it showed little sign of wear and tear and it was clearly too slow for Gary Keedy and Chris Schofield, even though they were given the ball while it was still pretty new and hard.

The lack of bounce was particularly disappointing for Schofield. He knew he was in for a hard day as soon as he saw batsmen able to play him off the pitch, rather than read his hand, but days like this are part of any young leg-spinner's highereducation.

Give or take some 50,000 spectators, these would be conditions not dissimilar to those he might find on the subcontinent this winter if he is selected.Patience, allied to the ability to bowl his stock leg-break accurately over after over, will be the main requirements, which sometimes eluded him here.

But he did vary it and even spun a leg-break from around the wicket to have Ben Smith caught at slip. He also had Jonathan Dakin picked up at bat-pad, so when Habib and DeFreitas came together Leicestershire were still behind with half their wickets gone.

Both, though, are accomplished players of spin and neither offered the bowlers much hope. John Crawley thoughtfully switched his attack around, but for once here were two home batsmen not about to give it away and by the time Habib was caught at slip the game was safe.

Soon afterwards DeFreitas reached three figures from 135 balls with a flurry of fours. It was good to see Lancashire, despite their disappointment, leading the applause for him.

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