Lewis Hill’s highest score of the season saw Leicestershire cruise to victory at Wantage Road, beating Northamptonshire by six wickets to claim back-to-back victories in the Specsavers County Championship for the first time since 2010.
When Harry Dearden fell third ball of the Leicestershire second innings with no score on the board, it appeared the chase of 217 was going to be tricky but Hill and Paul Horton then remarkably added 148 for the second wicket – almost treble the previous highest stand in the game. Hill fell with 19 needed, sweeping at Saif Zaib and was lbw for 85, leaving Colin Ackermann to complete victory with a punchy 42 in 40 balls.
It was an extraordinary turnaround after 20 wickets fell in the first four-and-a-half sessions of the game. But the seam movement and uneven bounce began to evaporate on the second afternoon. The only wickets after lunch on day three came via a unfortunate leg-side strange of Horton, who after passing fifty in 139 balls with six fours, feathered a catch behind trying to turn away a Rob Keogh long-hop, Hill’s ill-judged sweep and Mark Cosgrove holing out to deep midwicket for a duck.
Northamptonshire actually began the third day in the ascendency, resuming 165 for 3 leading by 152, but they were ambushed with the ball swinging around and lost 7 for 53 in 19 overs to tumble away to 229.
Mohammad Abbas removed Adam Rossington in the fourth over of the morning with one that bounced and took the edge to second slip. It ended what was then the highest partnership of the match, worth 55, and Abbas then had Keogh caught behind for 3.
Ben Raine again played his part, trapping Zaib lbw with one that swung into the left-hander and had Kleinveldt caught at short midwicket for just 3. Nathan Buck added 17 before he and then Ben Cotton fell within three balls of each other to Gavin Griffiths.
Alex Wakely was left to watch from the other end with no partner to help him add significantly to his overnight 51 – the first half century of the game. Left with only No. 11 Ben Sanderson for company, he ran himself out for 74 trying to return for a second run to keep the strike.
It left Leicestershire with what proved to be a target far short of being competitive. Hill led the chase after being promoted to No. 3 with Ackermann moved down the order having not fielded on the second evening or third morning with a hand injury. He played a very composed, calm innings to pass fifty for the first time in 2018 in 97 balls with seven fours before moving to the highest score of the game.