|LV= County Championship Division Two, New Road (day three)|
|Leicestershire 148 & 170: Hill 50; Waite 4-35, Pennington 3-30|
|Worcestershire 577-6d: Azhar 225, Haynes 127, D’Oliveira 54, Cox 52*; Mulder 4-125|
|Worcestershire (24 pts) beat Leicestershire (1 pt) by an innings and 259 runs|
Worcestershire overwhelmed Leicestershire by an innings and 259 runs with more than a day to spare in their County Championship Division Two match at New Road.
The home side collected a maximum haul of 24 points to secure their second Championship victory of the campaign.
They 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 Foxes.
Then some fiery bowling from Dillon Pennington, a career Championship best return of 4-35 from loan signing Matthew Waite and a series of superb catches saw Leicestershire crumble for a second time.
Worcestershire dominated in all departments with Azhar Ali’s double century the bedrock of their innings and taking the Pakistan batter’s run tally to 465 in the past four innings.
They looked a side capable of mounting a promotion challenge, although they will undoubtedly encounter stiffer opposition than that on offer from Leicestershire.
The visitors never recovered from opting to bat on a helpful pitch after winning the toss and being bowled out for 148.
They remain anchored to the foot of the table without a win heading into the break from four-day cricket and the launch of the T20 Blast campaign.
Worcestershire resumed on 456-3 and captain Brett D’Oliveira added only two to his overnight 52 before he became Wiaan Mulder’s fourth wicket of the innings but Ali, who resumed on 202, set the 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 and 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 for the first time in nine years before the all-rounder hooked Wright down long leg’s throat but the significant acceleration was provided by Ben Cox.
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, 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 in the opening game of the season 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 Foxes and Colin Ackermann, deposed as red-ball captain this week, tried to work Pennington to leg and was lbw.
Pennington bowled with considerable pace 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 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.
Report supplied by the ECB Reporters’ Network.