Warwickshire turn game their way
Title hopefuls Warwickshire are on course to make the highest score of the match to beat Worcestershire in the LV= County Championship match at Edgbaston.
Opening batsmen Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood, with 46 and 32 respectively, put on an unbroken 79 as the Division One leaders chased a target of 260 after breaking their neighbours’ grip on the second day.
Shunted to the bottom of the table by Durham’s victory over Surrey, Worcestershire initially responded by bowling out the home side for a meagre 132 - their lowest first-innings total in two years.
Having secured a substantial lead of 114, the New Road side had their own troubles after the third-ball dismissal of first-day centurion Phil Hughes and disappointingly folded for 145 in their second innings.
Only a glimpse of flair from Vikram Solanki and a stubborn knock by young left-hander Matt Pardoe prevented complete disintegration. They respectively struck 39 and 30.
The pitch is not really the minefield it may appear to be after 13 wickets on the first day and 17 more on the second, but the ball has swung and there has been some indifferent batting.
Warwickshire’s collapse in the morning became a triumph for rookie fast bowler Chris Russell as the 23-year-old impressively backed up his six wickets in a two-day match against South Africa a fortnight ago.
Born on the Isle of Wight, he first played for the county’s second XI in 2008 but it is only in the last month or so that his performances have merited an opportunity at championship level.
With one wicket to his name in Warwickshire’s struggle to 19 for three overnight, he took three more in his first eight overs and posted a well-deserved final return of 4-43.
Sustaining a decent pace in a prolonged spell, he secured a couple catches in the slips - the best of these by Daryl Mitchell to remove Darren Maddy - and trapped Jim Troughton with a delivery which may have kept a shade low.
Troughton, who batted despite going down with sickness on the first day, went in at 34 for five and helped double the total as Rikki Clarke led a spirited counter attack.
Unable to bowl because of an abdominal muscle injury, the all-rounder hit 10 fours before he was caught at short-leg off Moeen Ali for 61.
Warwickshire’s bowlers needed early wickets to have any chance of getting back into contention - and they were under way when Hughes shouldered arms in Keith Barker’s first over.
Barker went to pick up 3-21 and Chris Wright claimed his 200th first-class wicket when debutant Joe Leach was lbw for 20.
Off-spinner Jeetan Patel again mopped up the tail, claiming match figures of 8-114 in his last championship appearance before linking up with New Zealand for two Tests in India.