Three late successes by the Nottinghamshire attack swung the momentum away from Worcestershire and ensured that four early scalps on the final morning will be sufficient to give Nottinghamshire victory in their opening LV= County Championship match of the season.
Set 392 to win, the visitors reached 258-6 by the close, thanks to 102 from Daryl Mitchell and 94 from Moheen Ali but Luke Fletcher, Ben Phillips and Andre Adams, all with two wickets apiece, have kept Notts on course for the win.
Skipper Chris Read admitted that his side had needed the late wickets. “It was a hard couple of sessions for us and was a fantastic partnership. For a long time we were up against it but stuck to our plans and got our reward at the end of the day.”
"For a long time we were up against it but stuck to our plans and got our reward at the end of the day.” Chris Read
With both sides still searching for the extra points Read believes his side need to strike early on the last day. “The game is still in the balance and Worcestershire will feel that they have every chance of victory. We have two new batsmen out there and a new ball that’s only five overs old.
“We need to make them play and if our bowlers stick to the way they have performed throughout this game so far, then hopefully we’ll be alright.”
Resuming from their overnight position of 355-7, with Riki Wessels on 104 and Graeme White new to the crease after Phillips’ late dismissal on the previous evening, Notts looked to build on their lead against a ball that was only 16 overs old.
White (4) didn’t last long, edging David Lucas to third slip where Michael Klinger pouched the catch. That brought Adams out to the middle and the former Kiwi international, undeterred by his nought in the first innings, began teeing off immediately.
One huge blow off Lucas sailed over the ropes in front of the Hound Road Stand as Mitchell, Worcestershire’s captain, looked to protect the boundaries.
After just 35 minutes play, the floodlights were turned on giving Trent Bridge its first experience of ‘morning’ floodlit play.
Wessels went past 109, his highest championship score, but on 113 he went across his crease to Richardson and was given out lbw by Tim Robinson. His second century-plus innings of the week had taken 244 minutes to compile (148 balls, 14x4).
Fletcher (9 not out) hit two powerful leg-side fours before Adams (25) was bowled heaving at Richardson, who ended with figures of 5-95.
Set a victory target of 392 Worcestershire’s two openers Mitchell and Klinger survived for forty minutes until Ben Phillips struck in the twelfth over.
Phillips had taken 3-29 in the first innings and continued his fine form with a ball that seemed to bounce a little more than earlier and brushed the edge of Klinger’s bat on its way through to Read.
With gloomy black clouds all around the ground Trent Bridge was grateful for the artificial illumination being provided.
The afternoon session began with an unusual occurrence. Adams bowled to Mitchell and strangled a half-appeal for lbw. Read and the slips, obviously unsighted, did go up in hope and umpire George Sharp raised his finger to give the batsman out.
Presumably at the suggestion of Adams a quick exchange saw Sharp amend his original decision and give Mitchell a reprieve.
Adams’ good sportsmanship (it that is what occurred) then went unpunished as Hales spilt a difficult offering at slip from the bat of Solanki (22).
The former England ODI man didn’t make the most of his opportunity though and lifted Adams into the hands of White at point shortly afterwards.
Moeen Ali began with an elegant cover drive for four, a shot which set the tone of what was to come. With elegant time and regular rotation of the strike he and Mitchell monopolised the rest of the session.
Graeme White’s introduction saw Ali clip into the New Stand to reach his fifty and celebrated another milestone by launching another maximum to bring up the century stand.
Mitchell followed his partner past fifty with hopes of pulling off an unlikely victory becoming more of a possibility.
Should they chase down the 382 needed it would be the second-highest run chase in Worcestershire’s history, a measure of how difficult was the challenge that had been set.
The target drew ever closer as the two experienced batsmen extended their stand to 174. At that point Adams struck, getting Ali (94) caught behind after a fine innings that had lasted just over three hours.
Alexei Kervezee’s arrival in the middle coincided with Notts taking the second new ball and Phillips made it count straight as the Dutch international edged back onto his stumps from just the sixth delivery with the new cherry.
The two dismissals altered the momentum of the day but Notts were to end the day even more emphatically. Mitchell advanced to his century (237 balls 12x4) but then lost his off stump to Fletcher, who followed it up next ball by doing the same to Scott (0).
With 4 more wickets needed for the win Notts will hope for a dry final day and early successes against the Worcestershire lower order.
Entrance to Trent Bridge for Easter Sunday's action will cost £5 for adults and £1 for Under 16s.