Hassan Azad impresses with half-century as Northants fight back against Foxes

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The batsmen enjoyed themselves on the opening day of the two-day pre-season friendly between Northants and Leicestershire at the County Ground on Monday.

Whereas the wicket for last week's clash with Worcestershire seemed to offer some help to the pace bowlers, it was very much a case of roles reversed at Wantage Road as bat dominated ball.

With rain forecast for Tuesday, both sides made the most of the fine weather on offer with Leicestershire batting first and racing to 181 for four declared in 44.2 overs.

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Gareth Berg made an early breakthrough when he bowled Rishi Patel for six, but Sol Budinger then took a liking to the Northants bowlers and the short boundary on offer.

Hassan Azad scored 66 for Northants against his former county before retiringHassan Azad scored 66 for Northants against his former county before retiring
Hassan Azad scored 66 for Northants against his former county before retiring

The former Nottinghamshire man crashed four sixes and seven fours on his way to 60 from just 59 balls, before he was caught by Simon Kerrigan off the bowling of James Sales.

Lewis Hill made a more sedate 51 from 105 balls, while Louis Kimber was 35 not out from 56.

The most successful of the bowlers for Northants was Sales, who claimed three for 50 from 7.2 overs, while Berg bowled tightly to take one for 24 from 11.

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The County then lost a couple of early wickets, with Ricardo Vasconcelos comprehensively bowled by a Chris Wright inswinger a for a nine-ball duck and Lewis McManus, again up the order at three, pinned lbw by Josh Hull for one from 22 balls.

That left them 25 for two, but trialist Hassan Azad - who hit 66 from 99 balls before retiring - and skipper Luke Procter (47 retired from 68), turned things round.

Azad, who has been training with the County for the past couple of weeks, will have enjoyed showing what he can do against the county that released him last September.

Once Azad and Procter departed, the County lost another couple of cheap wickets as Sales and Berg both went early.

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But Rob Keogh (29no from 54 balls) and Vasconcelos (17no from 20), who returned to the crease for a second stint, took Northants to 189 for five from 50 overs at the close.

The match had originally been scheduled to be played at Grace Road, but was switched at the back end of last week.

Play will continue behind closed doors on Tuesday morning.