Friday, May 20th, 2022


Azhar Ali scored a superb double hundred as he and centurion Jack Haynes rewrote the record books on day two of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Leicestershire at New Road.

Pakistan Test batter Azhar and former England Under-19 batter Haynes put on 281 in 78 overs for the third wicket – a record partnership for any wicket against Leicestershire.

It surpassed the 278 by Cyril Walters and HHIH ‘Doc’ Gibbons at New Road in 1934.

Their efforts were largely responsible for Worcestershire totalling 456-3 – a lead of 308 – and achieving maximum batting points for the first time this season.

Haynes was eventually dismissed for 127, but Azhar went on to bring up his double ton with a cover drive for four off Rehan Ahmed in the final over of the day.

It came up from 328 balls with one six and 18 fours, and Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira (52 not out) then helped him put together another century stand.

Azhar arrived at New Road after a successful Test series against Australia, which included a marathon 175 spanning 11 hours at Rawalpindi.

The 37-year-old gradually acclimatised to English conditions and has shown his class since hitting 92 against Durham and has often been involved in major partnerships with Haynes.

The pair shared stands of 195 (Durham) and 187 (Derbyshire) before joining forces for this marathon effort.

Haynes has been quick to acknowledge Azhar’s influence on his batting this summer as he has converted his outstanding potential into major contributions.

His maiden hundred came in the Durham game, and this was the Worcester born batter’s third century in successive matches.

He became the first Worcestershire player to achieve that feat since Daryl Mitchell in 2017 when he scored hundreds against Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Sussex.

Azhar and Haynes took full toll of the Leicestershire attack as they provided rich entertainment after a delayed start to proceedings because of morning rain.

Play did not get underway until 1.10pm, but the third wicket pair made up for lost time by scoring 148 runs during the afternoon session.

Haynes pulled Chris Wright for six, and Leicestershire were powerless to stem the flow of boundaries before Azhar took a stride forward and flicked Ed Barnes for a single to fine leg to complete his century from 159 balls with 11 fours.

His partner followed him to three figures with a clip to deep mid-wicket off Rehan Ahmed. It took 15 more deliveries than Azhar and contained one six and 14 fours.

The second new ball was taken immediately after tea, but the record stand was established when Haynes cut Mulder for his 17th and final boundary.

Haynes’s fine knock ended when he pushed forward to Mulder and was lbw for 127. He batted for five hours and faced 230 deliveries.

Azhar continued to demonstrate some superb stroke-play after he was joined in the middle by D’Oliveira.

His cover drives, cuts and pull shots were a delight to watch.

D’Oliveira, a century-maker against Leicestershire at the Uptonsteel County Ground last month, also played fluently in another century stand with Azhar from just 134 balls.