Essex fight back from Shantry seven
Worcestershire 0 for 0 trail Essex 215 (Westley 90, Mahmood 54, Shantry 7-69)
In-form Essex opener Tom Westley held off Jack Shantry-inspired Worcestershire for four hours in the LV=County Championship Division Two promotion clash at New Road.
Westley's composed knock off 90 from 180 balls enabled his team to make 215 after they had threatened to cave in during a Championship-best return of 7 for 69 by seamer Shantry. The seventh wicket went down with only 115 on the board but Sajid Mahmood, making only his second appearance since moving from Lancashire, joined the impressive Westley in a rescue partnership of 91.
When Shantry was cutting through the middle order, capturing 4 for 10 in 26 balls, Westley was in danger of being left in isolation, but the arrival of Mahmood forced Worcestershire on to the back foot. The former England fast bowler bombarded an all-seam attack with 11 fours and it was a surprise when he was bowled behind his legs to give Shantry the fourth five-wicket haul of his career.
Mahmood was close to a run-a-ball in making 54 - his 10th first-class half-century - but his departure sparked another damaging spell in which Shantry claimed the last three wickets for four runs in 10 deliveries.
Westley, having batted with such control until the 62nd over, allowed his judgment to lapse. Needlessly taking on Shantry, he was caught at long on and missed an opportunity to join a list of 10 players who have carried their bat for Essex.
With only 6.5 overs bowled on the first two days, a badly curtailed match has come down to a battle for bonus points. Worcestershire will start the final day with a clean slate after rain at 5.30pm halted their reply on nought for nought in two balls from David Masters.
At least there was good progress when Essex resumed their first innings at 9 for one. Debutant Nick Browne, offering no shot, and Mark Pettini, propping half-forward, fell to Alan Richardson, the leading wicket-taker in Division Two.
Ryan ten Doeschate, in his second match since returning from IPL duty with Kolkata Knight Riders, took three fours in nine balls but a collapse set in when he edged Shantry to second slip.
Bowling from round the wicket, Shantry suddenly hit a hot streak. Ben Foakes, leg-before, and James Foster, nicking to first slip, went in successive balls and Graham Napier, having hit a couple of fours, flashed a fierce head-high chance to Gareth Andrew in the gully.