Habib century prises control from Somerset

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Somerset 262 Leicestershire 275-4

In their contrasting styles, Aftab Habib and Jonathan Dakin restored Leicestershire's fortunes here yesterday, much as Marcus Trescothick and Ian Blackwell had done for Somerset the previous day.

Batting, though not entirely straightforward, was an increasingly comfortable exercise and it is encouraging to think that this game could now go the distance with the slower bowlers having important roles to play.

Thus far, the seamers have held sway. It was not too difficult to predict that Graham Rose, who hits the pitch harder than most, would be effective. What was less predictable was the contribution of Jamie Grove, sharing the new ball in the absence of Andy Caddick. Grove is only 20 with a handful of first-class games behind him, but he looks an interesting prospect. He has a good action and genuine, if raw pace. Somerset have given him his head and told him to concentrate on that aspect of his bowling.

The result was a wayward but sharp opening burst. He picked up the wicket of Darren Maddy wholeft one and saw his off stump flattened. At other times he hit the bat hard and on a quicker pitch he might have been quite a handful.

Significantly, he managed to get a ball through Habib when the batsman was well set after some three hours and otherwise cruising effortlessly to a flawless 100. By then Habib had been coaxing the ball through the covers or whipping it wristily through midwicket having timed it well from the start. This innings is probably the best thing that has happened to Leicestershire this season.

Dakin supported him well, driving the slower bowlers from some way down the pitch or punching the ball away off the back foot in a way few others have managed. He might have needed a little more luck at times but he and his partner exposed the shortcomings of Somerset's second-line bowling.

Rose, operating to his characteristic full length, had opened up more than one batsman with his late movement before getting his rewards. He had Darren Stevens and Trevor Ward leg-before and Ben Smith, having been dropped at third man off Grove, was caught at slip by the same, relieved fielder, Keith Parsons.

Habib and Dakin batted with excellent selectivity. Some of Habib's strokes through the covers were not only exquisite, but a reminder that this is still a pretty good pitch. His first century of the season arrived from 214 balls with 14 fours.

Scoreboard (Day 2 of 4): Leicestershire (5pts) are level with Somerset (3) with six first-innings wickets in hand.

Somerset won toss

Somerset- First Innings 262 (Trescothick 105, Blackwell 58).

Leicestershire - First Innings (Overnight: 3 for 0) D I Stevens lbw b Rose 13 D L Maddy b Grove 5 0 0 17 23 T R Ward lbw b Rose 2 0 0 27 38 *B F Smith c Parsons b Rose 3 0 0 12 17 A Habib not out 118 0 17 247 273 J M Dakin not out 101 1 14 223 257 Extras (b4 lb6 w4 nb6) 20

Total (for 4, 90 overs) 262

Fall: 1-20, 2-24, 3-29, 4-34.

To bat: P A J DeFreitas, ÿN D Burns, A Kumble, C D Crowe, J Ormond.

Bowling: G D Rose 19-9-32-3, J O Grove 15-4-47-1, K A Parsons 12-3-41-0, M E Trescothick 7-0-37-0, I D Blackwell 20-5-61-0, A R K Pierson 17-4-34-0.

Umpires: M J Harris and T E Jesty