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June 21, 2011
Worcestershire 403 for 8 dec and 108 for 1 beat Hampshire 239 and 269 (f/o) by nine wickets
The longest day was over all too quickly for Hampshire as their relegation fears in the County Championship increased with a crushing nine-wicket defeat by Worcestershire at New Road.
The resurgent home team needed only two balls to take the remaining wicket as Hampshire's second innings closed for 269 and captain Daryl Mitchell then made a half-century in clearing off a target of 106 in 24.5 overs.
Unless there is a marked improvement in the second half of the season - and so far Hampshire are the only side without a win - it looks likely that England's newest Test venue will be hosting Division Two cricket next year. The Rose Bowl was built with visions of staging international events and the county team winning titles, but this defeat - their fourth in seven games - has left Hampshire stranded at the bottom of Division One.
In contrast, Worcestershire's achievement in registering back-to-back victories in the top flight for the first time has transformed the prospects of a side who began the summer with six consecutive defeats.
They are now out of the relegation positions, 36 points clear of Hampshire and also ahead of Yorkshire, and beginning to believe they can stay up for the first time, having gone down straightaway in three previous spells in Division One.
Their cricket in this game was mostly strong and purposeful. Vikram Solanki ensured a big first-innings total with an eye-catching century and the bowlers did their job in dismissing Hampshire for fewer than 300 in both innings.
Front-line seamer Alan Richardson got more out of the pitch than anyone, taking 9 for 114 in the match, and Bangladesh's left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan claimed seven wickets in a one-off return to Championship action.
Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal has now arrived to fill the overseas slot for the second half of the season and Worcestershire will be hoping he is as successful as Shakib was in the late charge to promotion last year.
Richardson was denied an opportunity to take 10 wickets in a game for second time in a 16-year career when Imran Tahir top-edged a simple catch back to Shakib. This left Worcestershire virtually all day in which to complete the formalities but in practice the game was over before lunch as they took only 96 minutes to complete their 24-point maximum.
The openers put on 62 before Matt Pardoe (19) was out in the 16th over, clipping a ball from Tahir to Jimmy Adams at short leg, and Mitchell carried on to reach 50 for the second time in the match. He was unbeaten with 57 after steering James Tomlinson to third man for the winning boundary, his eighth in all.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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