Brett D’Oliveira and Ben Cox produced an awesome display of post lunch hitting to help earn Worcestershire CCC a first innings lead of 161 on day three of the Bob Willis Trophy encounter against Gloucestershire at Bristol.
The sixth wicket pair plundered 92 runs in the final eight of the permitted 120 overs with a dynamic mixture of power and shot improvisation.
It followed on from an impressive maiden first class half century from Jack Haynes and enabled Worcestershire to total 428-5 from 120 overs.
Paceman Charlie Morris then struck a vital blow with the prized wicket of Gloucestershire captain, Chris Dent, shortly before the close after he had scored his second half century of the game. It was Morris’s sixth victim of the game as Gloucestershire closed on 135-3 still 26 in arrears.
All of the Worcestershire batsmen had contributed to their impressive total and it was a just reward after many months of hard work to combat last season’s challenges with the bat in red ball cricket.
D’Oliveira, who ended unbeaten on 91, said: “I think we’ve been consistent with what we’ve been trying to do with bat and ball and so far, it has paid off.
“Dent is a fine player and it was great to get him out. I think we actually deserved that wicket because we had been building some pressure towards the end.
“Going into tomorrow, it’s about building that pressure up again and hopefully we can get a cluster of wickets.”
In terms of his own contribution, D’Oliveira said: “It’s always nice to get a few runs and wickets and contribute to the team and looking forward to tomorrow now and hopefully getting that win if we can.
“We had a brief chat at lunch and, without taking too many risks we managed to move the game forward which was nice.
“Coxy played an outstanding innings, went into T20 mode with his little dink sweeps, and he was great to bat with.”
The icing on the cake was the D’Oliveira-Cox onslaught which helped secure a sizeable advantage. The tone was set as 28 runs were plundered off the first two overs after lunch and the pair produced a wide range of strokes.
D’Oliveira’s 91 not out came from 104 balls with 13 fours, to add to his two key wickets yesterday, while Cox struck 45 not out from 32 deliveries with one six and six fours.
Worcestershire had resumed on 223-2 and Tom Fell (39) was lbw to Josh Shaw after attempting to work a delivery to leg with 10 runs added. Haynes collected his first boundary with an impressive square drive at the same bowler’s expense and then pulled Graeme van Buuren to the ropes to secure a second batting point.
D’Oliveira found the second new ball to his liking with two fours in an over from Ryan Higgins. Worcestershire overhauled Gloucestershire’s first innings total of 67 when Haynes clipped David Payne off his legs for two.
The England Under-19 batsman completed his maiden first class fifty when he forced Payne through mid-wicket for his fourth boundary. It came from 110 balls and there were congratulations from D’Oliveira and warm applause from his team-mates on the dressing room balcony.
Haynes fine knock ended on 51 in the next over when he was lbw to Higgins after trying to force through the leg side with the total 281-4.
Riki Wessels raced to 19 off just 17 balls with four boundaries before he pulled a delivery from Matt Taylor and fell to a fine running catch on the deep mid wicket boundary by Graeme van Buuren.
It preceded the amazing onslaught from D’Oliveira and Cox after Worcestershire had gone into lunch on 336-5 from 112 overs. D’Oliveira completed an excellent half century with the first ball after the resumption from 79 balls and seven fours and then he and Cox accelerated in superb fashion.
In between the more authentic strokes, there were two improvised upper cuts over the slips for four by D’Oliveira off Josh Shaw and a delicate sweep and reverse flick past keeper Gareth Roderick off Matt Taylor.
It provided great entertainment and then the Worcestershire attack made two early breakthroughs when Gloucestershire launched their second innings.
Miles Hammond (9) fell to a superb low catch away to his right by Daryl Mitchell off the bowling of Charlie Morris – his fifth wicket of the game. Graeme van Buuren (9) was lbw to a full length delivery from Josh Tongue at 46-2 in the 14th over.
Dent and George Hankins added 88 for the third wicket before the former on 67 edged a ball of late movement from Morris through to Cox
WORCESTERSHIRE – FIRST INNINGS CONTINUED
Fell lbw Shaw 39 (3-233)
Haynes lbw Higgins 51 (4-281)
D’Oliveira not out 91
Wessels c van Buuren b M. Taylor 19 (5-304)
Cox not out 45
Total (for 5 wickets) 428 in 120 overs
M. Taylor 20.4-2-83-1
Van Buuren 12-1-40-0
GLOUCESTERSHIRE – SECOND INNINGS
Dent c Cox b Morris 67 (3-134)
Hammond c Mitchell b Morris 9 (1-26)
Van Buuren lbw Tongue 9 (2-46)
Hankins not out 38
Shaw not out 0
Total (for 3 wickets) 135 from 50 overs