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Moeen shines for Worcestershire

Worcestershire CCC

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Moeen Ali once again found Emirates Old Trafford to his liking as Worcestershire enjoyed marginally the better of day one against Lancashire in the LV= County Championship Division Two battle between last season's relegation victims.

Moeen's occasional off-spin returned match figures of 12-96 on this ground last July, benefiting from a sharply turning wicket.

This time around the 25-year-old displayed his strongest suit with a 78 that married patience and fluency, sharing in fifty partnerships with Thilan Samaraweera and Neil Pinner and passing 5,000 career first-class runs as the visitors reached 227 for six having been asked to bat.

Visiting captain Daryl Mitchell was unbeaten at the close with a fluent 36 having foregone his customary opening role due to illness.

Lancashire seamers Wayne White and Luke Procter claimed two wickets apiece alongside spinner Simon Kerrigan to leave the contest nicely poised at stumps.

Moeen Ali

Moeen Ali hits a straight six en route to a 78 that left Worcestershire in a solid position against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford

Worcestershire progressed to 23 without loss with relatively few problems, save for a lively 10th over when Michael Johnson - the Western Australian wicketkeeper thrust up the order in Mitchell's temporary absence - survived a strong lbw shout from Kyle Hogg before wafting outside off stump.

Johnson recovered his composure to hand fellow debutant White an inauspicious start, clumping his first delivery unceremoniously to the midwicket fence.

But left-hander Matthew Pardoe was unable to administer similar punishment to the former Leicestershire man after the final ball of the 15th over appeared to stick in the pitch and he chipped to Red Rose skipper Glen Chapple at mid-off.

New man Moeen and Johnson both drove airily as White came close to a second scalp before the latter was trapped plumb in front by Procter for 18.

Moeen was into his rhythm by the lunch break - a sumptuous straight on-drive down the ground for four standing as the shot of the morning - while Samaraweera was embroiled in a fascinating battle of wills with England Lion Kerrigan.

The slow-left-armer held sway early on as the recently retired Sri Lanka international propped forward to almost bring short-leg into play.

Samaraweera appeared to settle early in the afternoon session but, a ball after sending Kerrigan to the third-man fence, he feathered a cut behind to Gareth Cross and departed enraged.

His 28 was part of a 57-run stand for the third wicket and Moeen survived a run-out scare in bringing up his personal half-century when Simon Katich threw down the stumps in the 48th over - the ricochet turning a quick single into an all-run four.

White struck in the next set of six as Alexei Kervezee edged a full delivery to Steven Croft at second slip. That left Worcestershire 123 for four but Lancashire would make no further inroads before tea.

Pinner got off the mark with a glorious four through extra cover off White before joining Moeen in steady and largely chanceless accumulation.

But a 54-run alliance spanning 26 overs ended when Moeen looked to repeat an earlier, towering straight six off Kerrigan and picked out Ashwell Prince at long-on.

Despite an much-improved showing with the second new-ball, the tireless duo of Chapple and Hogg were once again wicketless, leaving it to Procter trap Pinner on the crease for 29 three overs from the close.

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