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Moeen spins County to first LVCC win of season
6:13pm Friday 20th July 2012 in WCCC
MOEEN Ali collected his second six-wicket haul of the match as Worcestershire clinched their first LV= County Championship Division One win of the season with a comprehensive 205-run defeat of Lancashire inside three days at Old Trafford.
Despite being bowled out for 139 in their second innings, Daryl Mitchell’s men encountered few problems in sweeping aside the Lancashire top order and dismissed the home side for only 63 in just 31.1 overs.
Only Gareth Cross reached double figures and Lancashire’s paltry total is their lowest score at Old Trafford since the Red Rose side were bowled out for 62 by Somerset in 1963.
But the tumble of wickets came as no surprise on a pitch which had helped the spinners from the first morning and 20 wickets fell for just 193 runs on what turned out to be the final day of the match.
Jack Birkenshaw and Bill Hughes, members of the ECB Pitch Liaison Panel, were inspecting the surface during the tea interval.
Lancashire never looked remotely capable of reaching their 269-run victory target and were 33-6 at one stage as Worcestershire’s bowlers took their side to their first four-day win in 11 matches — since they beat Lancashire at New Road last season.
Seamer Alan Richardson dismissed the openers Paul Horton and Stephen Moore before Moeen took over and had Karl Brown caught by Vikram Solanki in the leg trap with the third ball of his spell.
The rest of the afternoon became something of a procession as none of the Lancashire batsmen proved themselves able to cope with Moeen on a turning pitch.
The off-spinner took three wickets in his first 12 balls and finished with 6-29 in the innings and a career-best haul of 12-96 in the match.
Slow left-armer Shaaiq Choudhry chipped in with two wickets and wicketkeeper Ben Scott completed a fine match after his first-innings century by claiming five second-innings victims.
In the morning session, Lancashire had given themselves some hope of having a manageable target to chase by reducing Worcestershire to 69-5 but Gareth Andrew’s rapid 29 and Vikram Solanki’s fine 50 quickly crushed those hopes.
Nonetheless, Steven Croft, this week called into England’s World Twenty20 squad, took a career-best 6-41 and finished with match figures of nine for 105, although he will be one of the few home players to look back on this game with any pleasure.
The result leaves Worcestershire sitting only five points behind Lancashire with two games in hand and the defending champions are now hovering perilously close to the relegation zone, having played more matches than any of their rivals.
The crushing win will put Worcestershire in a great frame of mind for their Frinds Life T20 quarter-final with Yorkshire at Headingley next Wednesday (4.15pm).