Derbyshire’s tail did them proud at Grace Road, as their last three batsmen held out for 42 overs to ensure an unlikely draw against Leicestershire.
Having been reduced to 194-8, and still requiring eight runs to make the Foxes bat again, it was left to Azeem Rafiq (18 off 122 balls) and Tim Groenewald (9* off 87 balls) to run down the overs, and Mark Turner (17* off 22 balls) at the end to add some quick runs and make a target unattainable in the short time left.
Try as they might, the Leicestershire bowlers could not find a way through, and the batsmen succeeded. Even Claude Henderson, who bowled a marathon unbroken 50-over spell throughout the day failed to find the spark needed at the end, and the sides shook hands with the score at 236-9.
Derbyshire resumed on 17-0, and before a run had been scored found themselves under pressure with three maiden overs right from the start. The first chance of the day came off the bat of Wayne Madsen, who edged Nadeem Malik to gully, but Naik juggled the ball and could not hold on.
The following over saw the dismissal of Wes Durston, who was out lbw to Matthew Hoggard for 16.
Then it was the turn of the spinners to try and strangle the Derbyshire batsmen in to rash shots and force a last day victory for the Foxes.
Henderson claimed the second wicket of the day when Madsen tried to attack him off the back foot, but the ball turned and he nicked it to Will Jefferson at slip.
The third soon followed with the score on 65 after the visitors’ overseas player Usman Khawaja came down the track to Henderson and flicked the ball to James Taylor under the helmet at short leg.
Henderson and Jigar Naik continued to build up the pressure, but despite some close calls there were no further wickets before lunch.
Dan Redfern failed to add significantly to his 71 from the first innings when he became Naik’s first victim, and he struck again to remove Chesney Hughes for 32 after the West Indies Under-19 batsman left a delivery that went straight on and hit him plum on the pads.
Greg Smith and captain Luke Sutton provided some resistance, as Derbyshire got within 50 runs of making Leicestershire bat again. But when both Sutton and Jonathan Clare fell to leave the score at 163-7, the visitors looked doomed.
The new ball was taken after tea, and after Smith brought up his 50 with a boundary off Buck through the covers, the England Lions paceman responded with his wicket next ball. Smith tried to get his bat out of the way, but the ball clipped his glove and he was caught behind by substitute wicketkeeper Paul Dixey, who is replacing the injured Tom New.
But Rafiq and Groenewald looked untroubled as the bowlers tired and time began to run out. Henderson continued while the rest of the attack rotated at the other end, and though Hoggard finally dismissed Rafiq, the last two held on comfortably until the hand shake.