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Leicestershire claim dramatic victory late on day four

Leicestershire pulled off an extraordinary victory over Sussex in their LV=Insurance County Championship match at Grace Road.

After Hassan Azad (152) and Lewis Hill (145) had turned their hundreds into career-best scores and there was a maiden half-century for Louis Kimber, a declaration at 492 for four gave Leicestershire a lead of 133, but with their leading wicket-taker Chris Wright absent through injury, bowling Sussex out in the 48 overs that remained looked a long shot, even with Fynn Hudson-Prentice unable to bat after breaking a hand in the first innings.

Yet after reaching 117 for three - just 16 runs away from wiping out their arrears – a young Sussex side containing five teenagers lost their last six wickets for 11 runs, losing by an innings and five runs with 16 balls left.

Callum Parkinson took four for 18 with his left-arm spin and seamer Ben Mike four for 34 as Leicestershire won by five runs.

Wright, who was awarded his county cap along with Hill during the lunch interval, was not risked after feeling a hamstring after the first innings, when his six for 94 took his wickets tally for the season to 46.

Sussex remain without a win since beating Glamorgan in the second match of the season and are bottom of Division Three, with only a final fixture against next-to-bottom Derbyshire at Hove next week to come.

Bertie Foreman catches the ball

Resuming at 291 for two following Tuesday’s washout after another hour of the game was lost because of a wet outfield, Leicestershire achieved their objective of securing maximum batting points.

Two more came as Hill overtook his previous career best of 121, scored against Gloucestershire in April of this year, and Azad passed his of 144 not out against Surrey, also in April, as the pair extended their partnership to 248, a new mark for Leicestershire’s third wicket against Sussex. Hill’s runs took his tally for the season to 902.

Both fell in consecutive Henry Crocombe overs, both caught on the boundary by substitute fielder, 17-year-old Bertie Foreman, whose grandfather was Denis Foreman, who played cricket for Sussex and football for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 1950s and 60s.

Kimber (69 not out) and Harry Swindells (59 not out) claimed the fifth, adding 130 in just less than 19 overs before skipper Callum Parkinson called them in.

Leicestershire’s bowlers chipped away. Ali Orr was caught behind off Parkinson’s left-arm spin, first-innings centurion Ben Brown hit Ben Mike straight to point, Tom Haines played across one from Ed Barnes and having closed to within 16 of clearing the arrears, Sussex unravelled.

Rawlins edged behind, Parkinson bowled Tom Hinley, Oli Carter, who had faced 77 balls for his nine, pulled to leg gully and Crocombe was leg before as Mike took two in two. Parkinson then trapped Jack Carson in front.

Last wicket pair Sean Hunt and Joe Sarro - both 19-year-olds - survived 30 balls to prolong the agony, but then Parkinson had the latter caught behind to spark wild celebrations.

Speaking at the end of the match, Sussex's Championship Head Coach, Ian Salisbury said: "We're bitterly disappointed, we had every intention of playing the day out and we weren't capable of doing it. It's a harsh lesson that has to be quickly learned.

"There's a lot of people playing in their first season and they wouldn't have been put under that pressure before, they put the ball in the right areas often enough to ask questions and we weren't capable of keeping it out. But it's never a loss if you learn from it.

"It won't damage the young players, it will give them huge motivation going forward. To supporters I'd say 'Keep the Faith' - it's part of the journey to creating sustained success."

Reflecting on a famous win for his side, Leicestershire captain, Callum Parkinson commented: "A remarkable day, a real team effort during which a lot of lads stood up and I'm really proud of the lads..

"We wanted to get far enough in front not to bat again, which we did in the end though we ran it quite close! It began with great positive batting from Lewis Hill, Hassan Azad, Harry Swindells and Louis Kimber. I don't think going out there we were too sure after we lost all yesterday and an hour this morning, but we were patient, we held our areas and took our chances.

"We've played a lot of good red ball cricket this season, and I think we got our rewards today. I'm delighted."

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