Daryl Mitchell moved into the top six of Worcestershire CCC’s all-time century-makers, and Ed Barnard justified his promotion with a superb unbeaten 98 on day three of the LV=Insurance County Championship derby with Warwickshire at New Road.
Their efforts were primarily responsible for Worcestershire earning a first-innings lead of 20 as they reached 415-8 by the close in reply to Warwickshire’s 395 all out.
Mitchell clocked up his 38th hundred for Worcestershire and moved level on that figure with Fred Bowley.
Only Graeme Hick, Glenn Turner, Don Kenyon, Harold ‘Doc’ Gibbins and Tim Curtis have hit more centuries for Worcestershire than Mitchell in red-ball cricket.
The 37-year-old went to his ton with a single off Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes, and he went onto make 113 from 280 balls with 11 fours before leading the field to warm applause.
Barnard then took centre stage after Mitchell’s dismissal after his fine early season form – including a century against champions Essex – led to him securing a top-six spot against The Bears.
He came to the wicket at 214-4 and, with good support from Club Captain Joe Leach and Adam Finch, who hit a career-best 29 not out, finished just two short of another hundred.
The pitch is still flat, but Worcestershire will be looking to take early wickets on the final day to boost their chances of victory against their local rivals.
Worcestershire resumed on 152-2, and Jack Haynes soon brought up an excellent half-century from 110 balls with six fours.
The century stand arrived soon afterwards from 264 balls, and Mitchell completed his hundred with a single off Will Rhodes.
It came from 228 balls with ten boundaries and is his second against the Bears.
Worcestershire secured a first batting bonus point in the 80th over, and the Mitchell-Haynes stand was worth 130 in 56 overs before it was broken.
Haynes on 65 looked to work Matt Lamb to leg but was caught off a leading edge at extra cover.
Brett D’Oliveira got off the mark with a pull for four off Liam Norwell, but the same bowler ended Mitchell’s fine knock when he played forward and was lbw.
Barnard came to the wicket and batted with great responsibility in ensuring Worcestershire came close to matching their opponents total.
In the process, he went past 500 Championship runs for the summer.
Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes struck in successive overs as D’Oliveira (18) was caught behind, and Ben Cox (1) checked his shot and offered a return catch.
Leach produced some of the most aggressive batting of the day and collected three boundaries in an over from Rhodes.
He made a quickfire 34 before he was caught down the legside off Rob Yates.
Barnard swept Yates for four to bring up the 300, and he added 30 with Ish Sodhi (13) until the New Zealander picked out deep mid-wicket off Lamb.
A deserved half-century for the England Lions player was completed with a cut off Lamb to third man for his fifth four. It spanned 122 balls and occupied three hours.
Finch proved to be a worthy ally to Barnard, and he drove, and leg glanced Norwell for boundaries between providing tenacious defence.
A back-foot punch through the covers for three by Barnard off Yates edged Worcestershire ahead in the 159th over, and a boundary off the same bowler brought up the 400.
He went into the final over needing three to complete his hundred but was content to take a single off the second ball in a partnership so far worth 91 with Finch.