Azad and Cosgrove set platform for Leicestershire before Sanderson strikes

Mark Cosgrove plays watchfully Getty Images

Leicestershire 276 for 8 (Azad 86, Cosgrove 65) v Northamptonshire

Opener Hassan Azad passed 1,000 championship runs for the season as Leicestershire built a solid first-innings score after being put in by promotion-chasing Northamptonshire at the Fischer County Ground.

Azad made 86, sharing a partnership of 122 for the third wicket with Mark Cosgrove as the Foxes reached an imposing 150 for 2. But Ben Sanderson produced the ball of the day to bowl the in-form Cosgrove for a fine 65 before Luke Procter picked up two wickets in two balls to ensure the visitors remained very much in the game.

The Foxes lost captain Paul Horton early, Brett Hutton finding the right-hander's edge with just his second ball of the day, and Alex Wakely taking a low catch at first slip.

The pitch was playing well, however, and Colin Ackermann was understandably disappointed when, having reached 16 and beginning to play fluently, he hit Gareth Berg's first delivery in Northamptonshire colours straight to Rob Newton at point to leave Leicestershire on 28 for 2.

Azad and Mark Cosgrove raised a 50 partnership off 77 balls, but Azad did have one fortunate escape when on 34 he clipped a Hutton in-swinger to leg gully, only for New Zealand international Doug Bracewell, signed by Northants for the final three championship games of the season, to drop the chance.

Azad and Cosgrove extended their third-wicket partnership well into three figures before Cosgrove, who had hit eleven boundaries and looked in wonderful touch, had his off-bail removed by a fine delivery from Sanderson which straightened off the seam.

Procter then bowled Azad off the inside edge before swinging the next ball back in to win a leg before decision against Neil Dexter. George Rhodes, making his Leicestershire debut after joining the county from Worcestershire, dug in, compiling useful partnerships with Harry Swindells, Callum Parkinson and Chris Wright, before reaching an unbeaten half-century shortly before the close.

"I didn't set out with a target at the start of the season, but it means a lot to have achieved the 1,000 run milestone," said Azad. "There was a little bit of seam movement early and it was hard work, but as the ball got older it came on a bit better, and in the afternoon session, especially with 'Cozzie' in his stride, scoring got a little bit easier. Well, for him, anyway!

"They bowled really well to bring it back, Procter in particular, but George Rhodes played a really good and hard-working innings to lift us to a pretty good score. Hopefully we can get a few more and really give our bowlers something to bowl at."

Northants bowler Gareth Berg said: "It was fun to get a wicket with my first ball, even if it wasn't quite the way I'd have liked to. We bowled a bit of a mixed bag overall, but we brought it back.

"It wasn't an obvious decision to bowl first, but we felt if there was anything to come out of the wicket it would be on the first day. We'll come back tomorrow and hopefully end it quickly."

Northants 4th innings Partnerships

1st68RI NewtonBJ Curran
2nd19AG WakelyBJ Curran
3rd29AG WakelyRI Keogh
4th26AG WakelyRE Levi