Hodge walks tall but falls short

Warks 253 and 161;

Leics 328 and 241-6.

Match drawn
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The Independent Online

Leicestershire assumed the chance to break their duck for the season had disappeared once the customary blur of scoring strokes that is a Virender Sehwag innings was ended by Alan Richardson's nip-backer. Chasing 287 in 61 overs to beat Warwickshire, everything seemed to hinge on the Indian Test batsman, but while it took him only 39 balls to reach 40, it was a day for substance as well as style.

Sehwag's top-order partners gave him woefully short-lived support: John Maunders and Darren Stevens threw their wickets away with poor shots, Darren Maddy was extraordinarily stumped off fast bowler Waqar Younis - possibly a unique distinction - when he carelessly stepped out of his crease after being beaten outside off stump.

At 93 for 4, the cause looked lost. Instead, Leicestershire's other overseas player, the Australian Brad Hodge, chose a fine moment to produce his first Championship century, taking his side close to an unlikely victory. Although the 28-year-old Victorian has been a big hit in Leicestershire's successful Twenty20 campaign, he had contributed little before yesterday to their Championship season.

His superb 128 was therefore a repayment of the Midland county's faith and it was a pity for them that, having broached the last nine overs with an attainable 65 needed and six wickets in hand, the effort could not be sustained.

Just as victory was there for the taking, Hodge's gamble on calling for a second run to the deep-cover boundary backfired, substitute fielder Collins Obuya's throw beating Paul Nixon at the non-striker's end to end a 129-run partnership.

When Hodge himself was bowled by Richardson in the next over, deceived by a ball that kept low, Leicestershire decided the 57 still desired was too much and settled for a draw, although with relegation now a real threat there seemed little to be gained by not risking defeat.

Earlier, Leicestershire's ever-reliable captain, Phil DeFreitas, had given them a chance by bringing about Warwickshire's slide from 300 for 3 to 361 all out. Bowling unchanged for 16 overs yesterday, he returned figures of 5 for 36 on the day, 6 for 78 all told - his best in the Championship for two years - having begun by ending a magnificent innings of 138 from Mark Wagh.

Leicestershire stay bottom of Division One after this draw, while Warwickshire, who may yet be dragged into a relegation fight, had a point deducted for slow over-rate.

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