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D'Oliveira sets things up for Ashwin

Worcestershire 338 for 7 (D'Oliveira 93, Cox 56*, Barnard 46) v Gloucestershire

A dusty, used surface awaits R Ashwin when he finally gets to bowl at New Road on his Worcestershire debut, but on the opening day he had to satisfy himself with a useful supporting role for Brett D'Oliveira, who celebrated a new county contract with a top-score of 93 on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Gloucestershire.

Ashwin has started a four-game spell at New Road as Worcestershire strive to reinforce their promotion credentials, with Sussex, Kent and Northants all vying to join runaway leaders Nottinghamshire in the top two, and he looked full of class in making 36 in the middle order on a sun-soaked day.

But the main innings of the day came from D'Oliveira who, along with Ed Barnard, has committed his long term future to the County with new deals.

The 25-year-old fell just short of his third Championship hundred of the campaign but his efforts were a key component in Worcestershire totalling 338 for 7 from 98 overs on a used pitch.

There were useful contributions all down the batting order and now Worcestershire will be hoping Ashwin can work the kind of magic with the ball which has brought him 292 Test wickets.

Gloucestershire opted for a toss but lost out as home skipper Joe Leach decided to bat first on a pitch used for the England Under-19 v India Under-19 four-day 'Test' and a NatWest T20 Blast fixture.

Paceman Liam Norwell struck an early blow as Daryl Mitchell went for a drive and Cameron Bancroft held onto a low chance at first slip. But he then dislocated the little finger on his bowling hand fielding a return shot from new batsman Tom Fell and went for a hospital x-ray and did not return to the attack until after tea when the second new ball was taken.

Spin was introduced as early as the 13th over via Tom Smith.

Fell has experienced a poor summer with the bat but he looked in good form during a stand of 72 in 26 overs with D'Oliveira. He went past his previous highest Championship score of 35 in 2017 but added only three more before he was lbw to Smith.

D'Oliveira was not afraid to use his feet and lofted Jack Taylor for a straight six and repeated the stroke against Smith. Joe Clarke reeled off a series of exquisite drives in making 32 but would have been disappointed with the way a casual flick off his legs from Kieran Noema-Barnett ended up in the hands of short midwicket.

Smith enjoyed a second success as George Rhodes played back and nicked to George Hankins at first slip. D'Oliveira continued to score freely but on 93 he played forward to Smith and Hankins completed the catch after Will Tavare had initially got a hand to the ball at second slip. His 188 ball knock contained two sixes and 10 fours.

Ashwin was warmly applauded on his way to the wicket in what is arguably Worcestershire's most high profile overseas player since Glenn McGrath in 2000. He looked full of composure and class and it soon became evident why he often bats in India's top six.

He made 36 off 50 balls with a six and four fours before being undone by a ball of extra bounce with the second new ball from Norwell which was edged to Chris Dent at second slip.

But keeper Ben Cox (56 not out) and Barnard ensured Worcestershire remained on top during a partnership of 86 in 15 overs before the former on 46 from 49 balls was run-out after a mix-up.