Solanki and Moeen keep Worcestershire alive
Worcestershire 262 for 3 v Surrey 493
A third-wicket partnership of 223 between Vikram Solanki and Moeen Ali saw Worcestershire recover well from the shock of losing both openers without scoring on the second day of their County Championship match against Surrey at Whitgift School.
Facing an intimidating Surrey total of 493 in the Division Two encounter, Worcestershire started poorly when Andre Nel claimed Daryl Mitchell leg before in his first over and Iftikhar Anjum had Phil Jaques caught behind in his second.
But Solanki and Moeen countered with a century apiece before Worcestershire closed on 262 for 3, 122 runs behind. The pitch was remarkably dry for April and the ball was turning for Gareth Batty and Chris Schofield, two former England spinners, but Solanki, still one of the best batsmen in county cricket at 34, and Moeen, the former England Under-19 captain, did not allow them to dominate.
Solanki greeted both spinners by hitting them for four and six in their first overs and on one occasion Moeen hit Schofield for eight - a six over long-on and two penalty runs for a no ball. Solanki had a fright on 94 when he gave Schofield a return catch off another no ball but was the first to his hundred off 153 balls with four sixes and 12 fours. He had made 114 when he was bowled pushing forward to a ball from Nel that seemed to nip back at him.
Moeen reached his century off 179 balls with two sixes and 14 fours and was still there on 122 at the close. Their partnership was a record for Worcestershire's third wicket against Surrey, beating the 165 set by Solanki and Ben Smith at New Road in 2007.
Surrey had started the day on 415 for 6 but lost Schofield in the second over without addition to their score when he drove Richard Jones to Moeen at cover point. Steve Davies, playing against his former county, added 18 to his overnight 119 before skying Moeen to mid-wicket where he was well caught by Alan Richardson running round from mid-on. He had scored his 137 off 200 balls with a six and 16 fours.
There were more useful runs from Nel until he was run out by Solanki's direct hit from mid-off and Iftikhar before he holed out to mid-on off Moeen .