Lancashire claimed seven wickets in an excellent evening session to respond impressively to Moeen Ali's third LV= County Championship century of the season during today's opening day against Worcestershire at New Road.
Both sides will be reasonably happy with the day’s end result, which saw Lancashire close at 0-0 after one over of their reply to 287.
Lancashire will be happy considering Worcester were well placed at 215-3, while hosts will be disappointed at slipping considerably from a position of strength. Having said that, it could have been a lot worse for them at 252-9 before tenth wicket pair Alan Richardson and Graeme Cessford shared 35.
Kyle Hogg was the pick of Lancashire’s bowlers with 4-57 from 21.1 overs before Glen Chapple came out as night-watchman with Luis Reece.
"We had a tough day for most of it. It is a fairly easy paced pitch, and Moeen Ali played a great knock. At 200-3, we were up against it. At 280 all out, we are delighted with that,” said Chapple, who went on to talk about his side’s chances of overhauling Worcester’s score.
"Hopefully we could get more than that. We have to be hopeful of getting a first-innings lead. But they've got a decent attack. Alan Richardson knows how to bowl on these type of pitches. We'll have to play well, there's no doubt about that.
"Any decent score I get will be a bonus. I am in there to open the batting, and my aim will be to do as well as possible. If I can see off the new ball, great. Anything further than that will be a bonus.”
Ali, the England Lions left-hander, shared partnerships of 54 for the second wicket with opener Matt Pardoe and 91 with teenager Tom Fell, who added 43, to put the hosts in a strong position. But Worcester, who threw away a couple of wickets during the day, lost two wickets in an Arron Lilley over to slip to 215-5 in the 71st.
After Chapple won the toss with grey skies above, Ali later passed 1,000 Championship runs for the season and 6,000 in his first-class career under sunny skies.
Tom Smith and Reece, who picked up his first Championship wicket, struck before lunch to get openers Daryl Mitchell caught at slip by Andrea Agathangelou and Pardoe caught behind by Gareth Cross stood up to the stumps to leave the score at 92-2.
Reece’s wicket came with the penultimate ball of the morning session.
Former Sri Lankan Test batsman Thilan Samaraweera was then stumped in bizarre fashion in the 12th over of the afternoon when he left alone a Hogg delivery, failed to get back in his ground and was horrified to see Cross hit the stumps with an underarm throw.
Ali and Fell then made batting look a relatively simple task during their 29-over alliance either side of tea, but Lancashire bounced back impressively.
Fell was run out by Reece having turned Lilley to square-leg and set off for an ill-advised run with the fourth ball of the 71st over before the off-spinner, playing in place of Ashes debutant Simon Kerrigan, bowled Ross Whiteley for a golden duck to clinch his maiden first-class wicket.
And when Chapple trapped Jack Leach lbw in the sixth over, the Pears were 234-6.
Thankfully for Lancashire, the tumble of wickets did not stop there. Hogg took the second new ball immediately and had the prized scalp of Ali caught behind two balls into the 81st over having just brought up his hundred off 194 balls with 13 fours.
He also had Jack Shantry caught at second slip by Agathangelou before Ben Cox carved Smith to Reece at point. And after some lusty hitting from Richardson and Cessford, Hogg claimed his fourth when the former holed out to Simon Katich at long-on.
Picture (c) Simon Pendrigh