County Championship: Wright & Rankin plunder Worcs attack
|LV= County Championship Division One, Edgbaston (day three)|
|Warwickshire 264 & 321-8 dec: Chopra 107, Wright 61 no, Rankin 56 no|
|Worcestershire 149 & 88-2 Oliver 33, Moeen Ali 33|
|Worcestershire need 349 more runs to win with eight second wickets left|
|Warwickshire 5 pts, Worcestershire 3 pts|
Warwickshire's ninth-wicket pair Chris Wright and Boyd Rankin were the Bears' unlikely batting heroes as they shared a 114-run stand to set Worcestershire a big victory target at Edgbaston.
After skipper Varun Chopra (107) had completed his century, Wright made 61 and Rankin a career-best 56 as the hosts declared at tea on 321-8.
That set Worcestershire an unlikely 437 to beat their big city neighbours.
The visitors closed on 88-2, for the loss of Moeen Ali and Richard Oliver.
Both made 33, Moeen being removed just before the close of play by Keith Barker, who had seen him dropped by Chopra at first slip just two overs earlier.
But Worcestershire still have Daryl Mitchell there, the obdurate skipper having held firm to the tune of just 16 in 90 balls in 126 minutes at the crease, ending the evening session in the company of nightwatchman Charlie Morris.
|Big Boyd movin' up the Rankin|
|Boyd Rankin's first three sixes in first-class cricket, in his 78th match, came off Moeen Ali, Sachita Senanayake and Alexei Kervezee. The 6ft 8 in Ireland-born England international doubled his previous best for the Bears, set against Durham at Chester-le-Street four years ago|
The free-spirited Oliver had launched the Worcestershire reply with five boundaries in a typically swashbuckling 42-ball knock.
Moeen started off in similar fashion, getting off the mark with a six off Jeetan Patel before striking Rikki Clarke for four successive fours in the same over.
Moeen then got his head down until being unsettled by Barker's late spell, but Worcestershire have never before successfully chased a fourth-innings target as big as this.
Although Joe Leach added two wickets to his career-best first-innings six-wicket haul, Chopra's 18th first-class century, aided by a punchy 43 from Keith Barker, helped Warwickshire to lunch at Edgbaston on 196-6.
With Sam Hain having not been expected to bat as a result of a shoulder injury suffered the previous day, the visitors were hoping to limit their final-innings target to little more than 300.
When Chopra edged the first ball after lunch from Moeen to keeper Ben Cox and fellow spinner Sachithra Senanayake had Jeetan Patel stumped, at 207-8, Steve Rhodes' side thought they were through.
But Worcestershire took their spinners off to claim the new ball and, for once, it did not work as Wright played a classy and correct knock which appeared to inspire his batting partner.
Warwickshire captain Varun Chopra:
"I was pleased to get the hundred but then, having done all the hard work, I got out when the wicket started to get flat which was a bit annoying.
"Chris Wright and Boyd Rankin 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 had some tired bowlers out there but the two guys played like proper genuine batsmen and it was a really useful partnership."
Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes:
"The stand between Wright and Rankin was a killer for us because we had a real chance of chasing a lot lower score than we were expecting.
"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.
"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.
"It is a good test now for the rest of our batsmen."