The Foxes kept their shape, as they say in football speak, but were looking fairly bedraggled by the end of the hunt here yesterday. Vince Wells (hamstring) and Chris Lewis did not even start, Phil DeFreitas departed early and, following this Benson & Hedges Cup loss at the hands of Yorkshire and just three points from three games, it now seems likely that Leicestershire will have to win at Old Trafford on Monday to qualify.
They began the day with an embarrassed fending-off of enquiries about Lewis, then bravely decided to bat, lost both openers inside three overs and were in dire trouble when their acting captain, Ben Smith, departed at 36 for 3.
However, after Trevor Ward had been excavated and Neil Burns confounded, the innings at last found some concrete. The pitch eased after an hour under a blue sky and bright sunshine and Yorkshire's Ryan Sidebottom could not match the accuracy of his colleagues thus allowing Aftab Habib (70no) and the debutant Billy Stelling (50no), a tall, lean 30-year-old South African (with a Dutch passport), to forge an unbroken partnership of 122 in 22 overs. The stand had a good crowd muttering that the score of 191 would "take some getting". Stelling's fifty came off 71 balls; he plays with adventure and Grace Road will hope that his bowling, his forte, eventually matches his batting.
In Yorkshire's reply Leicestershire were further stricken as DeFreitas, after bowling three overs, was sent home with a high temperature. Craig White then played three brilliant drives before an airy wave to point. Richard Blakey, an odd choice at No 3, was tormented by the spin of Anil Kumble.
He survived, however, and with David Byas plundering anything pitched on his legs, the pair had added 69 in 18 overs before Blakey was run out. By then the target was 80 off 20 overs with eight wickets left.
There followed the usual mid-innings wobble before Darren Lehmann was outshone by the 21-year-old Gary Fellows whose driving brought a breath of fresh air - something the game needs - as Yorkshire eased to victory with four overs to spare.
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