If the Foxes looked limp last night after their defeat to Derby, there was no sign of it tonight. A superb display in the field and some clinical bowling from Ben Raine, Neil Dexter and Clint McKay, then a confidence-laden partnership from Niall O’Brien and Umar Akmal saw the Durham Jets soundly beaten.
It all went the way of the hosts tonight, from the toss to the fielding to the typically ostentatious batting from the O’Brien brothers and the sensible skills of their Pakistani overseas player.
Winning the toss they scanned the overcast sky and the green-ish pitch and sensibly opted to pick up the ball first, then proceeded to keep the visitors’ experienced batters down.
McKay set the ball rolling with the early scalp of Phil Mustard, who had to walk for no run after the Australian had him caught behind in the first over.
It was Raine who really impressed however, showcasing not only his range of abilities with the ball but also his fielding qualities and his lesser seen batting skills. His first victim was the always-dangerous Mark Stoneman, bowled for just 2 in the second over. Another two wickets fell the 24 year old’s way, including that of Ryan Pringle and Barry McCarthy, Raine finishing with 3-24 in his four overs.
With the exception of the partnership between Keaton Jennings and Callum MacLeod, the story of the Jets innings was one of disappointment. Jennings and MacLeod reached a sixth wicket partnership of 58 before MacLeod tried a clever scoop over his shoulder off Dexter, and managed only to find McKay.
Jennings continued to fight alongside Scott Borthwick, but the latter was nicely caught and bowled by Kevin O’Brien and the former, who had survived a couple of earlier appeals, was deemed run out by the TV umpire in the final over for an impressive 42.
It was a good pitch for bowling and the Foxes’ attack took full advantage. With a final Raine wicket in that final over, the hosts had limited the visitors to just 120.
In reply Raine contributed 21 runs and Kevin O’Brien smashed his way to 28 off 25 balls, but it was the partnership of his brother Niall and Pakistani Akmal that really sealed the victory.
In a fifth wicket partnership that took the game to its finale with 57 runs, O’Brien typically rode his luck, hitting high balls that just teased the fielders. More than once, Chris Rushworth must’ve felt himself unlucky not to have the Irishman caught.
At the other end, Akmal’s typically calm manner was, as ever, misleading as he brutally pummeled the bowlers time and again.
With a maximum each, a barrel of boundaries and a loud and excitable crowd behind them, the Irishman and the Pakistani rolled the Foxes home with apparent ease.
Last night was not Durham’s night and neither was tonight, as Leicestershire took victory by 6 wickets. Tomorrow, they do it all over again but for 50 overs this time.