Warwickshire win opens up gap at top
Warwickshire struck a significant blow in the race for the LV= County Championship Division One title by sealing a seven-wicket victory over Worcestershire with more than a day to spare at Edgbaston.
Ian Westwood, still black and blue from a battering in his century against Middlesex last week, made 83 on the way to a target of 260 and they got home in the 80th over despite another show of potential by Chris Russell.
The 23-year-old paceman from the Isle of Wight dismissed Varun Chopra and Westwood after an opening stand of 100 and emerged from his championship debut with a match return of 6-117.
Warwickshire’s first win in six games has opened a potentially telling gap at the top of the table, but Worcestershire’s defeat - a huge setback after taking a first-innings lead of 114 - leaves them on the bottom.
However, there could be many twists ahead. Two of Warwickshire’s last four games are against close rivals Nottinghamshire, and Worcestershire are at home next week in a relegation clash with second-from-bottom Lancashire.
The result of this match was signposted yesterday when Worcestershire collapsed for 145 in their second innings.
Another 75 to 100 runs would have upped the pressure on Warwickshire. Instead they were comfortably able to reach the highest total of the match in registering their fifth win of the season.
Westwood and Chopra provided a calming influence by putting on 79 before the close yesterday and, on the resumption, they completed their third century stand of the summer.
A cautious start against seamer Alan Richardson and spinner Moeen Ali saw Chopra reach his fifty from 85 balls, but he was dismissed for 58 after Worcestershire’s first bowling change.
Chopra was lbw to Russell’s fourth delivery, but the pugnacious Westwood advanced to a solid half-century after facing 117 balls.
Gaining in authority against the spinners, he was able to dance down the pitch and drive Brett D’Oliviera through the leg side as the hosts reached 171 for one at lunch.
Westwood went soon after the interval, checking his shot and giving a return chance to Russell, and Moeen’s turn accounted for Will Porterfield on 37 via a neat slip catch by Vikram Solanki.
Happily for Warwickshire they were still able to call on the vast experience of Jim Troughton and Darren Maddy, whose unbroken 70 saw them reach 34 and 45 respectively.