Talented Shiv Thakor shines for Leicestershire CCC on gloomy rain-hit day
Rain curtailed play at Grace Road yesterday just as Leicestershire were beginning to exert some control on their final Championship game.
Just 38.2 overs were possible on day two against Gloucestershire before rain set in after lunch, the umpires calling play off at 4.20.
By that time, though, Leicestershire had moved their first innings score from 94-3 to 220-5, just 14 adrift of their opponents.
And while it would be stretching matters to suggest they were in total command of the game at its midway point, they certainly have their noses ahead thanks largely to the efforts of batsmen Greg Smith and Shiv Thakor.
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The pair have endured contrasting fortunes this season.
Smith, at times, has looked as though he could not buy a run and a tally of a solitary half-century going into the final match of the season is well short of the kind of figures a batsman of his talent is capable of producing.
On the other hand, 18-year-old Thakor has been given a place in the County first-team after missing out on England's Under 19 World Cup challenge last month.
He has responded by demonstrating talent and maturity in equal measures to go past the 50-mark on four occasions in the Championship already.
Smith reached stumps on day one unbeaten on 47. Yesterday, he continued where he had left off and a perfect straight drive in the second over of the morning saw him ease past 50 with his eighth boundary.
He would continue almost untroubled to reach 77, his best score of the season, before popping up a bat-pad catch from off-spinner Jack Taylor.
Prior to that, Josh Cobb had seen his middle stump flattened for 10 by Liam Norwell, all of which meant that, as well as he had played, Smith's departure left Leicestershire wobbling on 155-5 and looking for a substantial partnership. Thakor met that challenge head-on and what little play remained in the day belonged to him, with all-rounder Wayne White providing valuable support in a stand that had reached 65 from 20 overs when the early close arrived.
At that point, Thakor was unbeaten on a sparkling 68, with White 20 not out, neither looking in any kind of bother on a pitch devoid of any pace.
Thakor has played some excellent innings already this season but this has been his most attractive.
What stood out was his shot selection, his placement and his timing as he stroked 11 boundaries.
His driving was as sweet as anything seen at Grace Road for some time. For an 18-year-old, he has tremendous presence at the crease and, like any good batsman, appears to have all the time in the world to play his shots.
At the other end, White offered the perfect support role. Generally recognised as a shot-maker, he had faced 64 balls and hit just a couple of his boundaries in his 20.