Daryl Mitchell and Brett D’Oliveira ended a lean start to the County Championship season with centuries on a day of personal milestones as Worcestershire took charge of the Division Two match against Derbyshire at Derby.
The opening pair put on 243 in 54 overs with Mitchell, who made 120, completing 10,000 first-class runs for Worcestershire when he got to 87.D’Oliveira scored 150 from 232 balls as the visitors closed day three on 323 for 3, a lead of 48, over Derbyshire who needed a ninth wicket stand of 45 between Tony Palladino (32) and Tom Taylor to get to 275 with skipper Joe Leach taking 4 for 50 from 23 overs.They held up Worcestershire for 20 overs in the morning to steer Derbyshire to a second batting point which had looked unlikely when Leach struck twice in consecutive overs.Daryn Smit edged low to Mitchell at second slip and after Jeevan Mendis had driven Nathan Lyon for six and swept the Australian off-spinner for two fours, he loosely clipped Leach to deep square leg.But Worcestershire’s hopes of wrapping up the innings were dashed by the tail until Ed Barnard came on at the City End and had Taylor caught behind to give Ben Cox his 200th first-class catch.Palladino was lbw to a full length ball to leave Worcestershire with a potentially tricky 20 minutes batting before lunch but there were few alarms as the openers closed in on Derbyshire’s total.D’Oliveira drove and cut Taylor for four fours in five balls but he should have been caught on 42 at square leg by Ben Slater off Shiv Thakor who was comfortably the pick of Derbyshire’s attack.Mitchell reached his landmark by driving Mendis through the covers for three just before tea and his 25th first-class century came off 128 balls before D’Oliveira completed his first in all cricket since last May from 160 balls.The stand was finally broken by Thakor who had Mitchell lbw playing across the line and Leach hit two sixes in the penultimate over before D’Oliveira finally fell with his side still in with a chance of forcing a win on the last day.Brett D'Oliveira said: "We are in a great position and I'm really pleased for Mitch, it's been quite tough for us early season against the new ball on tasty pitches and for him to pass 10,000 runs is a hell of an achievement. He played a fantastic knock and helped me a lot."We will try and kick on early and put them under pressure with the bat. We bat all the way down which is a real strength for us so if we can push on in the morning, the quicker we can get them in."