Leicestershire 93 and 20 for 0 (Evans 10*, Azad 4*) need 479 runs to beat Nottinghamshire 201 and 390 for 7 dec (Clarke 67, James 61, Hameed 60)
Division Two leaders Nottinghamshire put their foot firmly on Leicestershire’s throat on day two of their rapidly evolving LV= Insurance County Championship match at Trent Bridge, setting their winless opponents a fourth-innings target way beyond anything achieved in the county’s history.
After Monday saw 20 wickets fall on a first-day pitch conducive to swing and seam movement, with the home side bowled out for 201 but Leicestershire succumbing for a paltry 93 in reply, Nottinghamshire made good use of much more docile conditions before declaring their second innings on 390 for 7.
It left Callum Parkinson’s team needing 499 runs to win – 105 runs more than the 394 the post-war Leicestershire team scored to beat Derbyshire at Grace Road in 1947, which remains the county’s highest fourth-innings total to win a Championship match.
After the declaration, openers Sam Evans and Hassan Azad negotiated 13 overs at the close without mishap – although Azad was dropped at third slip off Dane Paterson on one – but two more days is too long for Leicestershire to survive, realistically, against a Nottinghamshire side intent on completing a seventh win of the season and stretching their lead over Middlesex, currently in second place, to 50 points.
In the morning, under cloud cover so heavy and threatening that bad light caused an interruption after only 39 minutes, Leicestershire had hoped wickets might tumble as they had on day one as Nottinghamshire resumed on 15 without loss. Yet they were disappointed.
Instead, the home side progressed to 112 for 1 at lunch, with Ben Slater the solitary casualty. The pitch was offering less help to the bowler after the heavy roller was deployed, but Leicestershire served up too many loose deliveries.
Slater – dropped on nine off Finan as third slip Rishi Patel spilled his fourth catch of the match – fell on 39, giving a rather tame return catch to Ed Barnes. Hameed completed an 80-ball half-century just before the interval.
The Leicestershire vice-captain, enjoying his most productive summer since his breakthrough season with Lancashire in 2016, looked in complete control, so it came as a surprise when he was dismissed half an hour or so after lunch for 60, seeming to change his mind about whatever shot he intended to play to a short ball from Finan, yet still getting a touch, which Harry Swindells eagerly grabbed behind the stumps.
If a second breakthrough was some kind of encouragement for Leicestershire, the next 75 minutes or so were not, thanks largely to Clarke, who looked as comfortable at the crease as he has all season, punishing every error as he rushed to a 45-ball half-century with nine fours.
Combined with Montgomery’s 32 and another batch of no-balls from Finan, Clarke’s runs were enough to put the contest effectively out of reach of Leicestershire, the third wicket partnership adding 101 in 112 balls before Montgomery miscued a short ball from the errant Finan, the one bright spot in an awful over that cost 17 runs.
Clarke, still without a first-class hundred this season, fell soon afterwards as Parkinson found his outside edge, but by then the Nottinghamshire lead was 353.
James and Steven Mullaney extended it to 403 in less than 10 overs before the latter, making room for himself, was caught at slip off Louis Kimber. James went past fifty for the seventh time this season before he was caught behind off a rank legside delivery by Roman Walker and after Tom Moores was caught at deep backward point, terminating a six-over thrash with Liam Patterson-White, Mullaney signalled the declaration.