Waqar delivers Warwickshire redemption

Warwickshire 253 Leicestershire 72-1
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The Independent Online

An error-strewn batting performance from Warwickshire found unlikely redemption here yesterday in the form of a maiden Championship half-century from the Pakistan pace bowler Waqar Younis.

The 31-year-old master of reverse swing, on a short-term contract at Edgbaston as replacement for the injured New Zealander Shane Bond, survived a chance before he was off the mark and went on to rescue his side from a perilous 167 for 8 with a 69-ball 52 as the last two wickets added a potentially valuable 86 runs.

Although a familiar figure with English audiences thanks to a high-profile international career, Waqar has not appeared in Championship cricket since 1998, when he made his previous highest score of 47 for Glamorgan against Kent at Canterbury. He chose a timely moment to inform Leicestershire that he knows which way to hold the bat.

With a couple of exceptions, Warwickshire had suffered one self-inflicted blow after another, the pattern set when the captain Michael Powell was bowled by Phil DeFreitas offering no stroke to the third ball of the match.

Mark Wagh and Nick Knight repaired the damage with a 78-run partnership for the second wicket, but then Wagh inexplicably popped an easy catch to mid-off and Ian Bell, stepping across, was lbw, giving David Masters two wickets in three balls and prompting a steady collapse.

Jonathan Trott chopped on horribly and though Knight, after hitting 10 fours in his 66, was unlucky to see the ball roll on to his leg stump after missing an attempted hook, Tony Frost edged a widish ball and Neil Smith, Dougie Brown and Melvyn Betts could be added to the list of careless casualties.

Warwickshire would have been in deeper trouble had Darren Stevens held a straightforward catch at slip when Waqar edged Darren Maddy. Instead, the error was heavily punished before, ironically, Stevens now at mid-off, took the catch by which Waqar eventually perished.

Virender Sehwag raced to 30 off 21 balls as Leicestershire began their reply before bad light and rain trimmed 10 overs from the day.