Both sides come into this game having played two and drawn two in their opening fixtures. Leicestershire faced Worcestershire where they hung on, on the final day, with nine wickets down; and Durham last week where there never really looked like being a result. Derbyshire’s draws have come against Middlesex and Sussex where they have performed well in both without being able to force results from promising positions. These results have left the sides fifth and fourth in the table respectively, with Derbyshire having accrued three more bonus points to leave them with 27 points to Leicestershire’s 24.
Both sides will be looking to break their duck in this match and secure their first victory of the season which could see them climb into the top two places. Glamorgan are currently in top spot on 34 points from two games and Durham in second place on 30. They both have tricky fixtures this week as Glamorgan welcome Middlesex to Cardiff and Durham have the pleasure of a visit from pre season favourites Nottinghamshire at Chester-le-street.
Both sides will be looking to their talismanic coaches for leadership and guidance this week to aid them their search for victory. The home side have club legend Paul Nixon in charge and will be hoping his exuberance and coaching acumen can help overcome the Mickey Arthur effect at Derbyshire. There is an undoubted difference at Derbyshire this season in attitude, however until this is turned into results Arthur will not be happy.
Who will be happy by the end of Sunday however is still unclear for two very evenly matched teams.
Everyone covets a reliable opening batter and in Hassan Azad Leicestershire have just that. This season Azad has scored 200 runs at an average of 66.67 with one 50 and one century. That century was in the first game of the season in the second innings as they fought and held on for a draw. Asad carried his bat and ended up on 104 not out. If he performs like that again, then he can set up a winning opportunity for his side instead of holding on for a draw.
Derbyshire have failed to take 20 wickets in a match so far this season, with 15 against Middlesex and 13 against Sussex. In the off season they signed Suranga Lakmal to add experience and quality to a young seam bowling attack. So far this season Lakmal has taken just two wickets in four innings. If Derbyshire are to start taking winning opportunities, they will need wickets from Lakmal. If he contributes more this week then, don’t bet against them claiming their first victory.
There shouldn’t be many changes for Leicestershire, who again will rely on the experience of Chris Wright and Beuran Hendricks with the ball, coupled with two former Derbyshire players Ed Barnes and Will Davis adding a touch more youth to the attack. The batting quality will come from Azad and skipper Ackerman who are both impressive with bat in hand. Last match the Running Foxes left out Callum Parkinson which raised a few eye brows and he will be hoping for a return to the side this week.
Leicestershire squad: (tbc)
Do not expect any major changes to the squad, Nick Potts who came into the side last week impressed on his debut and should keep his place in a seam attack alongside Lakmal, Connors and Dal. The batting order looks settled and strong with Masood continuing to impress alongside the evergreen Madsen and ever reliable Anuj Dal.
Derbyshire squad: (tbc)
Weather and Conditions
The weather looks set fair for the first three days of the game, although a little chilly with temperatures set to be no higher than 12 degrees. The final day on Sunday has rain forecast from 2pm onwards, so both sides will be hoping to wrap up victory before then. In the only other match held at the Uptonsteel ground this season, neither side made 400 in the first innings and Leicestershire just by the skin of their teeth held on for a draw by one wicket, so a mid scoring match is likely and despite the weather do not bet against a result.
Date: 21st – 24th April 2022
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Uptonsteel County Ground, Leicester
Odds (SkyBet): Leicestershire 1/1; Derbyshire 8/11