Rankin, Wright record take game away from Worcestershire
Worcestershire 149 and 88 for 2 need a further 349 runs to beat Warwickshire 264 and 321 for 8 dec. (Chopra 107, Wright 61*, Rankin 56*)
Moeen Ali suffered the indignity of becoming the first bowler hit for six by Boyd Rankin in first-class cricket as Warwickshire built a strong position on the third day against Worcestershire at Edgbaston
England's spinner was not spared as the visitors ran into a riotous record unbroken ninth-wicket partnership of 114 by Rankin and Chris Wright, which delighted the Edgbaston faithful and left the visitors facing a tall victory target of 437.
Rankin struck an unbeaten 56, his maiden half-century, from 100 balls and celebrated that first six off Moeen with two more, off Sachitra Senanayake and Alex Kervezee respectively. Wright contributed a classy unbeaten 61 off 97 balls, his eighth first-class half-century, to build on a foundation diligently laid by captain Varun Chopra's 18th first-class century.
It left Worcestershire a daunting target of 437 to win and they closed on 88 for 2 having suffered a big blow just before the close. Moeen moved to a classy 33, including four exquisite off-side fours in one Rikki Clarke over, but then edged left-armer Keith Barker to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose.
Warwickshire resumed in the morning on 105 for 2 and were pegged back by Joe Leach who quickly added two wickets to his six in the first innings as three wickets fell for 19 runs in 32 balls. Leach had Laurie Evans caught at second slip and Ambrose taken at leg slip before Clarke fired a return catch to Charlie Morris.
Chopra made 107 playing with great care, and Barker added 66 but when Jeetan Patel was stumped off Senanayake just after lunch, Warwickshire were 207 for 8, effectively 207 for 9 with Sam Hain unable to bat due to a shoulder injury.
But as the visitors' three specialist seamers tired, Wright and Rankin took full advantage to set a new county ninth-wicket record partnership against Worcestershire, surpassing the 98 by Piran Holloway and Allan Donald at Edgbaston in 1992.
After the declaration at tea, Worcestershire went into bat needing 437 in a day and 32 overs and started well as Daryl Mitchell and Richard Oliver added 52 in 13. Patel struck with his fifth ball when Oliver, having batted well for 33 from 42 balls rather gave it away with a leading-edge to mid-off. Moeen got off the mark with a straight six off Patel but perished in the lengthening shadows late on and Worcestershire will need skipper Mitchell , who closed on 16 not out, to continue his vigil deep into the last day.
"I was pleased with the century," Chopra said. "I felt quite good yesterday when the ball was doing a bit. There was a bit of playing and missing along the way but it was the kind of wicket when you might always get one with your name on it so you just had to try to stick in there and put away the bad ball when it came along.
"I was pleased to get the hundred but then, having done all the hard work, got out when the wicket started to get flat which was a bit annoying. Wrighty and Boydy put on our first hundred partnership of the year and you would have had pretty long odds on it coming from the two guys who are normally our numbers 10 and 11. But they both played really well."
Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes added: "That nith wicket stand was a killer for us because we had a real chance of chasing a lot lower score than we were expecting. We nearly did what we said last night which was to try and bowl them out today for another 100-120 runs. But they batted well and also our bowlers were just running out of steam and the reason they ran out of steam was we only batted for 42 overs and did not give them enough time to rest up and recharge the batteries ready for the next onslaught.
"I can't knock the bowlers, they've tried really hard and we just desperately need to bat well again because it's a big score. We did well tonight but it was a big blow losing Moeen just before the end. That hurt us because he is a key player and he himself wanted some time at the crease. He got a little bit of that but he would have loved to be there overnight for a big innings tomorrow. It is a good test now for the rest of our batsmen."