Sajid Mahmood propelled Lancashire to the top of the LV Division One table today with their second win of the Championship season, a six-wicket victory against Worcestershire at New Road.
The 27 year-old strike bowler confirmed three bowling milestones as he recorded career best innings figures of 6-75 from 28.1 overs to help bowl the hosts out for 301 in their second innings. As a result, Mahmood, who accelerated beyond 200 first-class career wickets in the process, also picked up career best match figures of 10-140 from 45.4 overs.
Worcestershire showed plenty of resistance on day three, with Moeen Ali’s compact 80 the cornerstone. But Kyle Hogg finished with 2-77 from 20 overs – both his wickets came last night – and Gary Keedy and Tom Smith claimed a wicket apiece to ensure the visitors were set 122 to win.
Francois du Plessis hit 34 as he and his colleagues completed the chase within 34 overs for the loss of four wickets. Paul Horton, Smith, Ashwell Prince and du Plessis were the men to go.
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“It’s always good to reach some milestones,” said Mahmood, who was also praised by coach Peter Moores. “I wouldn’t say that was the best I have bowled, but it was certainly one of the best. I pitched the ball up a lot fuller than my natural length. It is the best place to bowl to get wickets, especially this time of the season.
“It was a brilliant team effort. The bowling unit bowled really well, and I don’t think any of us leaked major runs. We kept the pressure on their batters, and that’s how we got our wickets. I know smaller targets are difficult sometimes, but the boys knew that we had an extra day if we needed it.”
Worcestershire had their best session of the match this morning, but Lancashire still managed to get the breakthrough they craved. In-form Moeen ensured the hosts went into lunch, which was taken five minutes early due to a passing shower, at 235-4.
The former Warwickshire right-hander, who hit a century against Yorkshire last week, reached his fifty off 96 balls. He also whacked Keedy for an eye-catching straight six. Smith claimed Lancashire’s only wicket of a frustrating morning, trapping namesake Ben lbw for 43 in the 77th over of the innings.
Mahmood struck twice in consecutive overs with the new ball just after lunch, forcing Steven Davies to get a leading edge to Prince at cover before trapping Gareth Batty lbw for No. 200. He also ended danger man Moeen’s 133-ball stay at the crease, well caught at mid-on by Glen Chapple, to leave Worcester at 259-7 in the 90th over of their innings. They led by 59 runs.
Chris Whelan was Mahmood’s fifth victim when he was caught behind by Luke Sutton six overs later. Gareth Andrew (30) and Matt Mason then shared a surprise ninth wicket partnership of 34 before the former was bowled by Keedy and Mahmood got his sixth when Steven Croft superbly snaffled Mason, diving away to his left at cover, for 14.
Moores said: “Saj had a great game. In his first spell he bowled alright, but he recognised that he needed to bowl slightly fuller. He adjusted to that. With the second new ball he asked a lot of questions. He deserved the wickets he got. It’s been a very special day for Saj. It’s his innings best figures, his career best match figures, and he has gone beyond 200 first-class wickets. You don’t get much better than that because we won too.”
Smith was the first to go in Lancashire’s chase, trapped lbw by Whelan for 18 in the 12th over. And when Horton was caught at first slip by Ben Smith off Imran Arif, the visitors were 47-2 in the 15th over.
Prince and du Plessis shared 44 for the third wicket to put their side on the verge, but the former was caught at slip by Daryl Mitchell off the spin of Batty for 21 to leave the score at 91-3. Du Plessis, who looked imperious on the drive, was the fourth to go when he was caught behind by Davies off the bowling of Andrew. Mark Chilton was unbeaten on eleven and Croft was nine not out at the end.
Moores added: “The game was really set up by Glen getting six wickets, and Saj four in the first innings. Then we worked very hard in quite tough batting conditions. We got a real boost with Kyle Hogg and Glen Chapple taking the game to the opposition. Second innings Worcester played really well. They slowed us down. The key wicket was getting Vik Solanki late last night.”
[Day 1 Report] [Day 2 Report]
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd