Shantry's five hands Worcestershire vital victory
Worcestershire 478 (Mitchell 206*) beat Hampshire 183 (Vince 56, Smith 51*, Ajmal 5-28, Leach 4-75) and 262 (Gatting 59, Shantry 5-51) by an innings and 33 runs
Worcestershire made a big move in the LV= County Championship relegation struggle by completing an emphatic victory over Hampshire by an innings and 33 runs after 95 minutes on the fourth morning at New Road.
Saeed Ajmal took two more wickets, giving him 8 for 100 in the match, Jack Shantry claimed five for 51 in the second innings as Worcestershire closed up on the three teams immediately above them. They are level with Sussex on 102 points and only one behind Nottinghamshire and six adrift of Somerset.
The implications are grim for Hampshire, now cut off by 26 points at the foot of Division One, and, worse still, a team playing without conviction or confidence.
Coach Dale Benkenstein came into the game bemoaning the loss of form by top batsmen but there was no sign of curing the problem with his side bowled out for 183 and then 262 after following on 295 behind.
"I am massively concerned after our first innings really," Benkenstein said at the end of the game. "There are has to be a bit of a discussion over the week. In four-day cricket we need to have a few discussions about where we are going from now. We have got six games left which is a lot of cricket, but it does just worry me that mentally whether we are good enough to play in this division. When we have been challenged we haven't really stood up and been counted."
Joe Gatting showed what could be done by posting a half-century for the second consecutive match since his recall to the middle order. His sensible approach put the conditions into perspective and made sure it would not be a spiritless retreat to a third consecutive defeat for the first time since a relegation season in 2011.
Although it is only Worcestershire's second win of the season - they also beat Somerset by an innings - they have been competitive in most matches. They have taken first innings leads eight times out of 10 and have more bonus points, both for batting and bowling, than any side in the division.
Benkenstein is not the first opposition coach to see the merits of an honest and uncomplicated team. A young and hungry group, they have a plan and stick to it but now they have added the x-factor with Ajmal proving that he can still take wickets.
Having totally changed the action that made him the top-rated spinner in the world, he may not have all the variations of the past but he knows his own game and more importantly knows how to keep batsmen guessing.
As Gareth Berg knows to his cost, it's not always big turn that achieves the desired result. When the overnight batsman pushed forward to the third ball of the day, he simply missed a straight one that went on to hit middle stump.
Hampshire, though, were not ready to give up quickly. Gatting and Danny Briggs settled into the second highest partnership of the innings but having comfortably reached 53 together in 14 overs, Gatting was lbw for 59, playing back to a quicker ball from Ajmal.
Worcestershire had to take the new ball to break up more stubborn resistance. Shantry bowled Brad Wheal for 10 and finished off the match when Jackson Bird, also 10, top edged a pull, leaving Briggs unbeaten 42.