Worcestershire produced a superb all-round performance to overwhelm Leicestershire by an innings and 259 runs with more than a day to spare in the LV=Insurance County Championship match at New Road.
They collected a maximum haul of 24 points to secure their second Championship victory of the campaign and climb the table into the promotion hunt.
Worcestershire established a first innings lead of 429 after plundering 120 from 20 overs before this morning’s declaration half an hour before lunch on 577-6 – their highest ever total against the Running Foxes.
Then some fiery bowling from Dillon Pennington, a career-best Championship return from loan signing Matthew Waite and a series of superb catches saw Leicestershire crumble to 170 in their second innings.
Ben Cox also had a day to remember with his 400th dismissal for Worcestershire – only the fourth player to achieve the feat – after his half-century earlier in the day.
Worcestershire dominated in all departments throughout the three days, with Azhar Ali’s double century the bedrock of their innings and taking the Pakistan batter’s run tally to 465 in the last four innings.
Fittingly, he led the side off the field after his superb effort, and Worcestershire will head into the Vitality Blast campaign full of confidence.
The visitors never recovered from opting to bat after winning the toss and being bowled out for 148 on the opening day.
Worcestershire resumed on 456-3, and Club captain Brett D’Oliveira added two to his overnight 52 before he became Wiaan Mulder’s fourth scalp of the innings.
Azhar, who resumed on 202, set the aggressive tone with a succession of boundaries.
He eventually played on to Chris Wright to end his marathon nine and a quarter-hour knock on 225. He left the arena to a standing ovation and the congratulations of several Leicestershire players.
An innings full of class spanning three days and 350 balls included one six and 22 fours and was Worcestershire’s highest individual score since Moeen Ali’s 250 versus Glamorgan at New Road nine years ago.
Ed Barnard made a breezy 26 as Worcestershire topped the 500 mark before the all-rounder hooked Wright down long leg’s throat, but Cox provided the significant acceleration.
He cleared the long Cathedral side boundary for the first of his three sixes and two more maximums off new Leicestershire red ball captain Callum Parkinson and hurried him to a 42 ball half-century.
Worcestershire surpassed their 121-year-old record score against Leicestershire of 561 at Leicester before the declaration.
Leicestershire needed a solid start, but Rishi Patel managed only a single before he was plumb lbw to Pennington.
Hassan Azad had denied Worcestershire victory on the season’s opening day at the Uptonsteel County Ground with an undefeated century.
Worcestershire’s joy was therefore understandable when the opener on 18 was brilliantly caught and bowled by Charlie Morris.
The pace bowler was slightly wrongfooted but adjusted to hold onto the low chance one-handed away to his left.
There was no respite for the Running Foxes, and Colin Ackermann tried to work Pennington to leg and was lbw.
Pennington bowled with great fire, but it needed a superb catch by keeper Cox to provide him with his third wicket.
Lewis Hill had just completed a 64 ball half-century when he tried to pull the pace bowler and top-edged the ball towards fine leg, but Cox running back at full tilt, managed to hold onto a diving catch at full stretch.
Waite, on loan from Yorkshire, came into the attack and Mulder (24) was bowled after offering no stroke.
There was more joy for the all-rounder when he clung onto a return catch the equal of that by Morris away to his right to account for Harry Swindells on the brink of tea.
The end came swiftly for Leicestershire with Ben Mike, Ed Barnes and Rehan Ahmed all caught behind by Cox, the first two off Waite and the last of them from the bowling of Morris.
Cox registered his 400th dismissal for Worcestershire when he held onto the chance offered by Mike.
The victory was completed with another fine catch, this time by Waite running back from mid on to hold onto a chance by Wright (31) off Barnard.
Waite finished with 4-35, Pennington 3-30 and Morris 2-10.