Labuschagne leads Glamorgan fightback

Glamorgan’s bowlers took six wickets in the evening session to fight back against Leicestershire
LV= County Championship Division Two, Sophia Gardens Cardiff (day one)
Leicestershire 285-8: Patel 87, Azad 64; Labuschagne 3-65
Glamorgan: Yet to bat
Glamorgan 2 pts, Leicestershire 2 pts

Marnus Labuschagne took three wickets as Glamorgan’s bowlers fought back late against Leicestershire.

On a batting-friendly surface, the visitors were at one stage 199-3 before six wickets fell in the evening session.

Opener Hassan Azad made 64 and Rishi Patel 82.

But Labuschagne took two wickets in two balls after tea to shift the momentum Glamorgan’s way to justify captain David Lloyd’s decision to bowl first.

That call initially looked dubious as Azad and Sam Evans steered the visitors to 82-0 at lunch.

World number one batter Labuschagne would probably not have been expecting to contribute too much with his leg spin on day one.

But he took the first wicket of the day as Evans was stumped, before Azad and Patel rebuilt the innings to 151-2, with batting still looking relatively easy.

Patel played with impressive controlled aggression having missed the start of the season through injury, reaching his maiden first-class 50 with a six off Andrew Salter.

But what happened next can only be blamed on the batters themselves as Azad called for a calamitous second run to Sam Northeast at fine leg and found himself back in the pavilion having run himself out.

And in the first over after tea, Louis Kimber repeated the dose by trying to scamper a single to Michael Neser at mid-on, ending with the same result.

Labuschagne then pinned South Africa batter Wiaan Mulder lbw for 16 before bowling Scott Steel first ball, leaving Glamorgan in a much more promising position than many would have imagined after the wicketless first session.

Glamorgan’s previous home fixture against Middlesex saw 16 wickets fall on the first day as the seamers ran riot.

But here the pace bowlers were largely ineffective early on, struggling to find any rhythm or consistency with the new ball.

However, a late surge came in the final 10 overs of the day as Neser, James Weighell and James Harris took a wicket each, Harris claiming the prize scalp of Patel as the batter edged the ball onto his stumps to leave the game tilting in Glamorgan’s favour.

Glamorgan’s Marnus Labuschagne told BBC Sport Wales:

“It was a really good finish for us today, from the position we were in. It was a pretty good wicket to bat on, not much pace but a little bit of nip with the second new ball so really happy with where we finished up.

“It’s really tough here to pick what the wickets do, sometimes the wicket looks like it’s going to do more and does less, sometimes it looks like it’ll do less and then does more.

“I don’t get many stumpings so that was a satisfying one, all in all the key part was the economy rate. Then Sam Northeast’s great run-out from the boundary and Michael Neser’s direct hit were two really special plays.”

Leicestershire batter Rishi Patel told BBC Radio Leicester:

I’ve worked on a few things in the winter and the confidence was always there. I’ve been a bit unlucky with injury missing the start of the season, but it’s been nice to get a few runs and hopefully it continues.

“Going none down in the first session was vital, a perfect start and it made my life easier coming in at three, it was a nice pitch to bat on once you got yourself going.

“There were a couple of unfortunate dismissals which ruined that last session so we’ve got a lot of hard work in the morning.”

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