worcestershire pace duo charlie morris and fit again josh tongue continued their impressive early season form in the specsavers county championship as middlesex were bowled out for 221 on the opening day at New Road.
morris, the leading wicket-taker in division two, picked up three more scalps to take his tally to 23 and tongue – back after a one match absence – also added a further trio of wickets to lift his total to 15 in five innings.
ross whiteley (2) , ed barnard (1) and club captain joe leach (1) added solid support with the ball as the county secured maximum bowling points for the fourth successive match.
opener tom fell then dug in effectively to make an unbeaten 18 in 27 overs as worcestershire closed on 64-3.
batting was a challenging exercise all day in the first meeting between the two counties since 2015 with the ball nibbling around sufficiently to keep bowlers interested.
it is the start of successive home games for worcestershire against middlesex, lancashire and sussex.
they are without all-rounder wayne parnell (hamstring) for this game but welcomed back tongue while fit again captain dawid malan and tim murtagh – available after international commitments with ireland – returned for middlesex.
malan (45), who had recovered from a groin injury suffered on england duty earlier in the month, and keeper john simpson (35) were the main contributors for middlesex.
morris broke through in his first over of the day as max holden (0) played half forward and nicked through to ben cox.
england opener sam robson (15) was lbw to a tongue delivery which kept low and nick gubbins (27) was bowled by whiteley.
malan, who suffered his injury blow in an odi against ireland, and steve eskinazi, put together a partnership of 62.
but whiteley enjoyed a second success when eskinazi (27) was leg before and then malan departed in the same fashion to morris after striking six fours in his 91 ball knock.
james harris (12) became another lbw victim in the next over from barnard who departed the field midway through his fifth over holding his left side but happily was soon able to return to the fray.
simpson and toby roland-jones (12) added 31 before the latter went for a cut against leach and fell to a sharp first slip catch by riki wessels.
tongue accounted for tom helm (1) and nathan sowter (20) – the fifth player of the innings to fall lbw.
simpson was largely responsible for taking middlesex past the 200 mark until he ballooned a simple catch to whiteley on the off side against morris.
morris finished with figures of 15.2-2-53-3 and tongue 17-2-49-3 with whiteley (2-35), leach (1-58) and barnard (1-14) the other wicket-takers.
when worcestershire batted, daryl mitchell (3) and george rhodes (4) were both caught behind off helm during a fine opening spell of 5-2-6-2.
callum ferguson launched a counter-attack which included three boundaries in an over from harris as the 50 came up in the 19th over.
ferguson made 37 before he was lbw to roland-jones shortly before the close after adding 53 with tom fell.
fell remained undefeated from 86 balls of determined resistance in the bowler-friendly conditions.