Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Ajmal’s Six Wicket Burst Is Icing On Superb Worcestershire Team Performance

Ajmal’s Six Wicket Burst Is Icing On Superb Worcestershire Team Performance

A devastating post lunch spell of six wickets by spin star Saeed Ajmal powered Worcestershire to a 234 run victory over Leicestershire in the LV County Championship clash at Grace Road.

The Worcestershire pace bowlers had laid the foundations in the morning session with four wickets as Leicestershire reached 136-4 at the interval in pursuit of a 404 target.

But then Ajmal took centre stage with a sensational burst of 6-13 from 36 balls to take his wicket tally to 44 from seven matches.

Victory kept Worcestershire firmly established in the top two with Hampshire and now all thoughts will turn to Friday's NatWest T20 Blast home derby with Birmingham Bears which is close to being a 5,000 plus sell-out.

It was a superb team performance after Worcestershire had been put into bat on a greenish pitch with all of the batsmen making sizeable contributions and Tom Fell and Tom Kohler-Cadmore making significant breakthroughs with their first Championship 100 and 50 respectively.

The pace trio of Jack Shantry, Charlie Morris and Joe Leach ensured Worcestershire maintained their proud 100% record of maximum bowling points from all nine games before Ajmal displayed his magic on the final afternoon.

Leicestershire resumed on 20-0 and there were an early flurry of boundaries from Greg Smith and Angus Robson against attacking fields as the 50 came up in the 12th over.

But then the Worcestershire bowlers started to make inroads into the home batting line-up.

Morris, who returned career-best figures of 4-76 in the first innings, made the initial breakthrough when Robson (28) was bowled via the inside edge.

Shantry had several lbw shouts turned down by umpire Nigel Llong but he raised the finger when Smith (30) played across the line.

Leicestershire skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan did not come out to bat in his accumstomed number four position because of a back injury.

Worcestershire thought they had dismissed Ned Eckersley when he edged a delivery from Leach to Kohler-Cadmore at first slip.

But Eckersley stood his ground, believing the ball had not carried, and continued his innings after the two umpires had consulted.

Shantry claimed his second lbw victim of the morning – and his 32nd Championship success of the season – when Eckersley on 18 walked across his stumps.

It became 98-4 when Joss Cobb (2) tried to leave a delivery from Leach and the ball hit his body and dropped down onto the stumps.

At that juncture Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell introduced Ajmal into the attack in place of Shantry who had figures of 2-36 from 13 overs.

A straight drive for four by Championship debutant Dan Redfern brought up the 100.

Morris returned for a second spell before lunch which Leicestershire reached without any further setbacks at 136-4 from 38 overs.

But then Ajmal took command and enjoyed his first success of the innings in the third over after the interval when O'Brien (27) fell to an excellent low slip catch by Mitchell away to his left.

Ajmal then uprooted the leg stump of Dan Redfern (39) and three balls later Sarwan, who was accompanied by a runner, was snapped up at short leg by Matt Pardoe for a duck.

It became four wickets in four overs for Ajmal when Ben Raine (11) went for a slog sweep and top edged a catch to Ben Cox.

Richard Jones (6) also perished to the Pardoe-Ajmal combination and the match ended when Charlie Shreck (0) was  adjudged lbw.