Contest evenly poised as wickets tumble

Moeen Ali made 79 for Worcestershire on day one at the County Ground
Moeen Ali made 79 for Worcestershire on day one at the County Ground
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Alan Richardson took three wickets as Worcestershire just about managed to stay in contention with Northamptonshire on the first-day of their LV= County Championship Divison Two match at the County Ground.

After being put in to bat, Worcestershire were bowled out for just 196 with only Moeen Ali’s 79 off 158 balls saving them from much worse as Andrew Hall and Trent Copeland took 3-45 and 3-51 respectively.

The in-form Richardson then took 3-43 to revive the visitors’ hopes as Division Two leaders Northamptonshire closed a frenetic day’s action on 100-4 as 14 wickets fell on the opening day.

Northants won the toss and chose to bowl and Copeland, playing in his last match before returning home, trapped Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell lbw for one in the sixth over.

His fellow opener Matthew Pardoe made 22 before he left Steven Crook’s delivery only to see the ball clatter into the top of his off stump.

Sri Lanka international Thilan Samaraweera then came to the crease but he was to only make 16 before Hall’s delivery went through the gate and on to his middle and off stumps.

Worcestershire finished the morning session on 100-3 but they lost Alexei Kervezee for 19 in the second over after lunch when his off stump was uprooted by Hall.

Aneesh Kapil only made it to four before he was superbly run out by Crook’s direct hit from cover after Ali attempted to run a quick single off David Willey in the following over.

Ali went on to complete his half-century off 99 balls, but wickets continued to tumble at the end other end as wicketkeeper Michael Johnson was bowled by Hall.

Gareth Andrew was the next to perish when he was pinned lbw by Crook to walk for 16 before Jack Shantry edged Copeland to Rob Keogh at third slip.

Ali’s resistance was broken when he flicked Willey’s bouncer to Northants wicketkeeper David Murphy before Copeland ended Worcestershire’s innings when Chris Russell chipped him to Willey at mid-off.

However, Northants lost both Matthew Spriegel (nought) and Kyle Coetzer (one) in the first over of their reply when they were taken by Ali and Mitchell at first and second slip respectively off Richardson.

Northants captain Alex Wakely made a bright 31 before mistakenly leaving Andrew’s delivery and having his off stump taken out and David Sales, having made a season-high score of 40, was then trapped lbw by Richardson with the last ball of the day, with Keogh resuming tomorrow at the other end on 26.