Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira led a powerful Worcestershire response with the bat on day two of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Derbyshire at the Incora County Ground.
D’Oliveira steered Worcestershire into a first innings lead as they overhauled Derbyshire’s total of 321.
He closed the day unbeaten on 87 from 122 balls with one six and nine fours as Worcestershire ended proceedings on 331-6 from 95 overs.
D’Oliveira’s partnership of 111 in 20 overs for the fifth wicket with Jack Haynes (62) gave the innings real impetus during the second half of the day.
Matthew Waite then followed his four wickets with valuable runs in making an unbeaten 34 and has so far he has added 75 with D’Oliveira.
Jake Libby, Ed Pollock, Azhar Ali and Adam Hose also chipped in with useful runs and now Worcestershire will look to press home their advantage and add further bonus points in the remaining 15 overs.
Worcestershire secured maximum bowling with Waite finishing with 4-50 from 17.1 overs.
It was a strong fightback by the Worcestershire bowlers after Derbyshire had reached 138-2 at one stage on day one.
Worcestershire needed only 6.1 overs to pick up the final two Derbyshire first innings wickets after they had resumed on 300-8 from 67 overs.
Josh Tongue collected his first wicket of the innings when Zak Chappell (46) flicked at a ball which bounced on him and picked out Joe Leach at third man.
Waite finished off proceedings when Sam Conners (10) attempted a big hit and only succeeded in skying a catch to Ben Gibbon in the deep mid-on region.
It was Waite’s second four-wicket haul for Worcestershire after his career-best 4-35 on his debut against Leicestershire at New Road when on loan.
Leach, 18-1-77-2, Gibbon, 16-2-58-2, and Tongue, 18-1-114-1, were the other wicket-takers.
Worcestershire were given a sound start when they launched their reply, with Libby and Pollock putting on 43 in 15.2 overs.
The stand was broken when Pollock (22) went for a pull against Conners and was held at deep square leg.
Pakistan star Azhar, who has returned to New Road for a second season, was soon showing his class.
A square drive, leg glance and pull brought him three boundaries before lunch, which was taken at 66-1 from 24 overs.
The second wicket pair continued to flourish during the afternoon session, and successive fours for Libby off Aitchison helped bring up the 50 partnership from 112 balls.
But Conners struck for a second time as Azhar (23) attempted to force off the back foot and nicked through to keeper Brooke Guest.
It became 108-3 when Libby, after making a patient 42, was superbly caught by Billy Godleman at mid-wicket of Conners.
His dismissal brought in Hose for his first innings of Championship cricket for three-and-half years.
After playing himself in he smashed Anuj Dal for his first boundary through the covers.
Haynes, looking to build on last season’s excellent form, which brought him three centuries, whipped Chappell through mid-wicket for four.
Hose had made a patient 15 when he was adjudged lbw to Lakmal after attempting to work on the leg side.
D’Oliveira bristled with positive intent as soon as he arrived at the crease, and two fours off Dal took him into double figures by tea at 152-4.
The fifth wicket pair came out for the final session looking to accelerate, and Haynes produced one of the shots of the day with an on-drive down the ground for four at Lakmal’s expense.
He reached his 50 from 93 balls with five fours, with D’Oliveira reaching that milestone from 61 deliveries with one six and seven boundaries.
The pairs order freely until Haynes went for a pull off Chappell and was caught around the corner.
Waite then joined D’Oliveira to continue the good work to the close.