Louis Kimber now stars with ball as well as bat as Foxes' winning run goes on

louis kimber now stars with ball as well as bat as foxes' winning run goes on

Lewis Hill leaps into action for Leicestershire © Getty Images

Leicestershire 263 for 6 (Hill 82, Kimber 58, Mulder 56*) beat Gloucestershire 262 for 9 (Harris 58, Taylor 50) by four wickets

In-form Louis Kimber produced a superb all-round performance to guide in-form Leicestershire to a crucial four-wicket win over Gloucestershire in the Royal London Cup.

Leicestershire won the toss and Kimber claimed career-best figures of 4 for 61 as the home side were restricted to 262 for 9 in their 50 overs, Marcus Harris and Jack Taylor scoring 58 and 50 respectively.

He then played a starring role with the bat, brushing off the loss of early wickets to post 68 from 70 balls and lay the foundations for a successful run chase.

Foxes skipper Lewis Hill and Wiaan Mulder took centre stage thereafter, both contributing half centuries and staging an alliance of 90 for the fifth wicket as Leicestershire reached their target with four overs in hand.

Hill top-scored with 82 from 75 balls while Mulder finished unbeaten on 56 from 62 balls. Zafar Gohar proved the pick of Gloucestershire’s bowlers, taking 3 for 64 from 10 overs.

A third straight victory keeps Leicestershire top of the group and on course for a home semi-final, but Gloucestershire must now win their remaining two matches against Surrey and Middlesex this weekend and hope other results go their way if they are to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

Defending a below-par total, Gloucestershire needed to take early wickets and Zafar accounted for openers Nick Welsh and Rishi Patel, both caught by Oli Price at slip in the act of pushing forward as the Foxes slipped to 20-2 inside seven overs. Worse followed for the visitors, Kimber refusing a single and sending back Arron Lilley, who was brilliantly run out for 19 by Ben Charlesworth’s direct hit from mid-off with the score on 63.

But Kimber was enjoying one of those days when everything he tried came off, the 25-year-old from Lincoln raising a 47-ball 50 to keep the chase on track. Spearheading the chase. he dominated a partnership of 63 with Hill for the fourth wicket to bring the required rate down to just over five, and was threatening to take the contest by the scruff of the neck when he inadvertently hoisted slow left armer Tom Smith to long-off in the 24th over to afford Gloucestershire much-needed respite.

Having hitherto been cast in the role of chief support, Foxes skipper Hill now assumed responsibility for steering his side to a fifth win in six matches. He went to 50 via 53 deliveries, his ability to punish the bad ball and find the boundary taking a good deal of pressure off his new partner, Mulder. By the time Hill departed, caught at short fine leg off the bowling of Zafar, Leicestershire were required to score at fewer than four runs an over and were virtually home and dry.

Taking full advantage of the ankle injury which ruled out opener Chris Dent, Charlesworth came into the Gloucestershire side and contributed a useful 31 from 47 balls in a progressive stand of 73 in 13.5 overs for the second wicket with fellow left hander Harris. Australian Harris summoned some handsome off drives in raising a 47-ball 50 and the home side made more or less serene progress until Kimber entered the attack with the score on 82-1 in the 18th over.

An occasional bowler during his time at Loughborough University, Kimber has been pressed into service by Leicestershire in the 50-over competition in the absence of frontline spinners Rehan Ahmed and Callum Parkinson, both of whom are currently engaged in The Hundred.

While his off breaks proved useful in previous matches against Warwickshire and Sussex, Kimber made an altogether bigger impact on events in Bristol, bowling Charlesworth with his first ball from the Ashley Down Road End. He subsequently lured James Bracey into front-foot indiscretion and bowled the former England Test batsman for four and then had Australian Harris stumped for 58 in his next over as Gloucestershire subsided to 106 for 4, losing three wickets for the addition of 24 runs.

A rebuild was required and Oli Price and Taylor obliged in a restorative alliance of 75 in 17.1 overs, these two taking low-risk options to put the innings back on track. Taylor survived a scare on 31, driving Kimber to the long-on boundary where a back-pedaling Chris Wright succeeded only in helping the ball over the rope.

Gloucestershire’s captain made good his escape, scoring a run-a-ball 50, including 2 sixes and 4 fours, before driving uppishly at Wright and holing out to extra cover. Hendricks had Price held at cover point for 37 and, when Zafar was caught and bowled by Kimber for 11, the home side were 199-7 and in danger of falling short.

That was the cue for Tom Price to launch a late rescue mission, the Academy product opening his shoulders to plunder 7 fours and a six in making a valuable 45 from 29 balls to out-score his younger sibling. He dominated an eighth wicket stand of 50 with Smith, which served to place Leicestershire bowlers under concerted pressure at the death and haul Gloucestershire to respectability.

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