Pardoe and Samaraweera prosper
Half-centuries by Matthew Pardoe and Thilan Samaraweera, the latter’s unbeaten, took Worcestershire to 198 for three on a rain-shortened first day in their LV= County Championship Division Two clash with Leicestershire at New Road.
Pardoe shared in partnerships of 78 with Moeen Ali and 69 with Samaraweera as Worcestershire finally started their home programme a month late because of on-going building work at the ground.
A five-storey executive block and a 120-bedroom hotel created a new backdrop in the riverside corner as Pardoe, determined and disciplined for close to four hours, made a championship fifty for the first time in 20 innings.
Given an opportunity to pin down an opening spot following the departure of Australian Phil Hughes, the young left-hander kept his side on a steady footing after Daryl Mitchell's edge to third slip in Ollie Freckingham's third over.
Relegated from Division One last September, Worcestershire have yet to find their feet at the lower level after a draw with Lancashire and defeats by Glamorgan and Hampshire in three away matches.
Fellow strugglers Leicestershire, another side without a win, were again without three front-line seamers, including former captain Matthew Hoggard, when Ramnaresh Sarwan lost the toss.
The stand-in bowlers kept things reasonably tight and Freckingham might have had a second success when Moeen got off the mark with a streaky boundary in his first championship innings since signing a five-year extension to his contract.
Unusually for New Road, the pitch encouraged Leicestershire to try Jigar Naik's off-breaks only 40 minutes into the first morning and before lunch they also gave a couple of overs to a second spinner in Josh Cobb.
There was even a hint of turn as Naik conceded only one run in three overs but the runs began to flow with leg-side sixes for Moeen and Pardoe.
Moeen also hit seven fours in making 48 from 77 balls before a misplaced square drive off Rob Taylor found Michael Thornely at point.
The unflustered Pardoe maintained a one-run-an-over tempo deep into the afternoon before he was bowled by Naik as he propped forward after making 59 from 174 balls.
By then Samaraweera was showing glimpses of his Test quality after an early incident in which he stood his ground when it appeared he had turned a catch to short-leg off left-arm seamer Taylor.
However, the ball only found its way into Matthew Boyce's hands after bouncing up from his body and then deflecting from the grille on his helmet.
After consultation between the umpires, the Sri Lankan was given not out and went on to complete his second fifty for the county. He was unbeaten on 52 when a second stoppage for rain ended the day with only 13 balls bowled after tea.