Dominant Ackermann posts another big score

SCORE | Day 1 of 4, Specsavers County Championship: Leicestershire CCC 353 for 8 v Middlesex CCC

SCORECARD | Available through ESPN Cricinfo

REACTION | Colin Ackermann spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae at stumps

HIGHLIGHTS | In-play highlights are available throughout the 2018 season

REPORT | Colin Ackermann recorded his second score of 150 plus in nine Specsavers County Championship innings as Leicestershire CCC posted 353 for 8 on the opening day against Middlesex CCC.

The No.3 became the first batsman to pass the 500-run mark in Division Two of the competition in racking up an unbeaten 151 to go alongside the 186 he made against Sussex CC.

Ackermann shared 129 for the fourth wicket with Neil Dexter (64), who was playing against his former teammates for the first time since joining the Foxes, and ended the day with a competition average of 78.71.

It was a good batting display from the team at the Fischer County Ground but they were kept on their toes by Tim Murtagh, who returned fine figures of 5 for 52 from 23 overs.

Leicestershire CCC named an unchanged XI from the win at Northamptonshire CCC while the visitors brought Murtagh, Max Holden, Paul Stirling and Ravi Patel into their side.

Dawid Malan waived Middlesex CCC’s right to bowl first and chose to toss, but called incorrectly and Leicestershire CCC Captain Paul Horton elected to bat.

Horton and Harry Dearden opened for County and Dearden unleashed a beautiful cover drive to take the innings total to 17. It was on that score that the first wicket fell as Horton (8) got a good ball from Murtagh that swung in late and took his off stump.

Only eight runs had been added when Dearden (13) was dismissed by Steven Finn. The left-hander looked to cut a short ball but managed to pick out Hilton Cartwright at point.

Drizzle set in at 11.35am and the players came off for half an hour. The first ball after the delay saw Ackermann get off the mark in hitting Murtagh through mid-on for two, and two balls later he drove the same bowling to the cover boundary.

The rain break meant prolonged opening spells for Murtagh and Finn. They were replaced by Hilton Cartwright and James Harris, whose first over went for a brace of boundaries; one apiece for Ackermann and Mark Cosgrove.

It was a special occasion for Cosgrove as he was making his 200th first-class appearance. The stand was worth 40 when Cartwright managed to get a delivery to swing away from Cosgrove (16) who edged to Malan. The England batsman took a smart low catch as the ball dipped on him at second slip.

Dexter joined Ackermann and the pair took the score to 84 for 3 at lunch. Runs came steadily in the afternoon session with 34 runs added in 12 overs. Ackermann and Dexter were sticking at their task and loose deliveries were flying to the boundary, including Dexter clipping Finn through mid-wicket.

Ackermann reached fifty with a controlled pull shot off Finn that flew to the ropes (104b, 9x4). The partnership was flourishing with boundaries becoming more common, Dexter being especially aggressive as he reached his third half-century of the season (73b, 8x4) with a nudge into the leg-side off Patel.

Shortly after his fifty Dexter played arguably shot of the day, Harris dropped slightly short in length and Dexter timed the ball with perfection through the vacant mid-wicket region.

The alliance was broken as Dexter edged Murtagh to Simpson, and Hill also nicked the accurate Ireland international, this time to Sam Robson at first slip.

Ben Raine joined Ackermann and his first ball bought up the first batting point for County. Tea followed with County 204-5, and Raine slog swept Patel for four when the spinner returned from the Bennett End in the final session.

The partnership was worth 64 and Raine was looking threatening when a moment of magic from Patel ended the left-hander’s stay. He firmly hit a drive back to the bowler, who produced a good diving catch to see the end of Raine (37).

Zak Chappell joined Ackermann and was there when the batsman reached three figures. Ackermann advanced down the wicket and hit Patel for a maximum over mid-wicket to move to a 204-ball landmark that also included 12 fours.

Chappell clearly was inspired by Ackermann’s attacking intent and decided to give Patel similar treatment in his next over. A ball on middle stump was whipped through mid-wicket and the next ball was lofted over cover for another boundary.

The new ball was taken at the first opportunity with Murtagh and Finn bowling, and Ackermann worked Finn off his hip for four to bring up County’s 300.

Ackermann lost another couple of partners as Murtagh completed his five-for, getting just enough movement to clip the off stump of Chappell (16) before Parkinson feathered a leg-side delivery to Simpson.

But Ackermann kept going and guided the team to a fourth batting point alongside Gavin Griffiths, who posted a career-best 18 not out. He reached 150 off the final ball of the day, reaching the milestone off 268 balls (20x4, 1x6).

TEAM | Dearden, Horton (capt), Ackermann, Cosgrove, Dexter, Hill (wk), Raine, Chappell, Parkinson, Griffiths, Abbas.

PHOTO | Thanks to John Mallett for the photo of Colin Ackermann.

* Admission to the second day's play against Middlesex CCC costs £12 for adults and £3 for under 16s. You can also follow the Foxes at the Fischer County Ground throughout the 2018 season by becoming a Member of the club. For further details on the advantages of joining us, please follow the link HERE