Moeen ton frustrates Somerset
Moeen Ali’s first century in 10 months gave Worcestershire a promising start against Somerset at New Road in their bid to register a third consecutive home win in the LV= County Championship.
The stylish left-hander made an unbeaten 134 from 210 balls and shared in three-figure stands with Vikram Solanki and Alexei Kervezee, who hit 90 and 68 not out respectively, as the hosts reached 367 for three at stumps.
With his side needing another victory to break out of the relegation zone, Moeen delighted an above-average crowd in his highest score since he struck 115 in the promotion-clinching win against Sussex last September.
It was all very frustrating for Somerset, who felt they may have levered themselves back into contention for the title with last week’s defeat of Division One leaders Durham.
Captain Marcus Trescothick was looking for his team to “string three or four wins together”, but his bowlers - as hard as they worked - were given little encouragement as much-improved Worcestershire dominated the opening day.
Batting first on a pitch that was previously used for a one-day match could prove to be an advantage in their only home championship fixture until the last day of August.
The morning session was hard-fought as Steve Kirby bowled well with the new ball and removed opener Matt Pardoe in his second over with a comfortable catch at second slip by Trescothick.
Worcestershire had to graft for their runs, but a stand of 73 between Daryl Mitchell and Solanki was the first hint that it could be a day for their batsmen.
Mitchell looked in good form with seven fours until Peter Trego found enough bounce to have him taken by James Hildreth at first slip for 45.
With Solanki content to restrain attacking ambitions in what became a highly valuable innings, Moeen immediately imposed himself with a half-century in 71 balls.
They stayed together throughout the afternoon, which finished with Moeen dumping the last ball from Arul Suppiah over the midwicket fence, but Solanki was out soon afterwards when he went for a big shot towards long-off.
Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik was rewarded for a steady, containing spell when Hildreth ran round the boundary and took a difficult catch over his shoulder to end a partnership of 148 in 41 overs.
Moeen then completed his hundred with a top-edged six off Trego, which narrowly cleared Nick Compton in front of the pavilion.
At the close he had also hit 18 fours and put on an unbroken 128 with the ever-positive Kervezee, who struck nine boundaries in a 61-ball fifty.