Moeen hundred sets up Worcestershire
Worcestershire 367 for 3 v Somerset
Moeen Ali's first century in 10 months gave Worcestershire a promising start against Somerset at New Road in their bid to register a third consecutive home win in the County Championship. He made an unbeaten 134 from 210 balls and shared in three-figure stands with Vikram Solanki (90) and Alexei Kervezee (68 not out) as Worcestershire reached 367 for 3.
With his side needing another victory to break out of the relegation area, Moeen delighted an above-average crowd in his biggest innings since he scored 115 in the promotion-clinching win against Sussex last September. It was all very frustrating for Somerset, who felt they may have levered themselves back into contention for the title with last week's defeat of the current Division One leaders, Durham.
Captain Marcus Trescothick was looking for his team to "string three or four wins together" but his bowlers, as hard as they worked, were given little encouragement as much-improved Worcestershire dominated the opening day. Batting first on a pitch that was previously used for a one-day match could prove to be an advantage in their only home championship fixture until the last day of August.
The morning session was hard-fought as Steve Kirby bowled well with the new ball and removed opener Matt Pardoe in his second over with a comfortable catch at second slip by Trescothick. Worcestershire had to graft for their runs but a stand of 73 between Daryl Mitchell (45) and Solanki was the first hint that it could be a day for their batsmen.
Mitchell looked in good form with seven fours until Peter Trego found enough bounce to have the home skipper taken by James Hildreth at first slip. With Solanki content to restrain attacking ambitions in what became a highly valuable innings for his side, Moeen immediately imposed himself with a first 50 in 71 balls.
They stayed together throughout the afternoon, which finished with Moeen dumping the last ball from Arul Suppiah over the mid-wicket fence, but Solanki was out soon afterwards when he went for a big shot towards long off. Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik was rewarded for a steady containing spell when Hildreth ran round the boundary and took a difficult catch over his shoulder after a partnership of 148 in 41 overs.
Moeen then completed his hundred with a top-edged six off Trego which narrowly cleared Nick Compton in front of the pavilion. At the close he had also hit 18 fours after putting on an unbroken 128 with the ever-positive Kervezee, who hit nine boundaries in a 61-ball half-century.