A FIFTH-WICKET stand of 154 stand between James Foster and Mark Pettini put Essex in a strong position only for Nathan Buck to fire Leicestershire back into contention with two late wickets on day one of their LV= County Championship match at Chelmsford.
The Essex pair came together with the score at an uncertain 75 for four and proceeded to dominate the visiting attack before Pettini finally fell for 71.
Captain Foster was out from the final ball of the day for 82 as the two dismissals, both from Buck, pegged the home side back to 254 for six at stumps.
Mark Pettini contributed 71 runs to the fifth-wicket partnership of 154. Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Pettini hit nine fours in his 161-ball knock and Foster 10 in his innings, which came off 170 balls, and their partnership could scarcely have been better timed after Leicestershire had made some early breakthroughs.
Rob Taylor bowled Tom Westley for 15 and Buck, who finished with three wickets for 64, dismissed fellow opener Jaik Mickleburgh for 27.
And when Anthony Ireland had Greg Smith (29) and Ben Foakes (two) both caught behind by Ned Eckersley in the space of three balls, the visitors, still looking for their first win of the Division Two season after opening with two draws, had their tails up.
Former Essex captain and England batting coach Graham Gooch watched the action at the County Ground today. Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Pettini and Foster combined with real effect, though, taking the score to 229 before the former was unable to get out the way of a Buck delivery which got good bounce and Angus Robson took a welcome catch at gully.
Kishen Velani joined Foster in the middle and was unbeaten on 18 when Leicestershire grabbed their sixth wicket.
Buck again was the man to get it, trapping Foster lbw to ensure the visitors ended the day on a high.