Moeen misses ton but Worcestershire lead Warwickshire
|LV County Championship Division One, New Road|
|Close, day two: Warwickshire 201 & 76-0, Worcestershire 375|
|Worcs 7pts, Warwicks 4pts|
Moeen Ali missed out on a ton against his old county as Worcestershire earned a 174-run first innings lead against Warwickshire at New Road.
Supported by Vikram Solanki (44), the former Bears youngster made 92 as his side posted a healthy 375.
He then shared a 73-run stand with homegrown Matt Pardoe, who hit 54 in only his second game for the county.
But Warwickshire hit back before the close to reach 76-0, Varun Chopra looking well set on 57.
Lively Bears paceman Boyd Rankin added to his one overnight scalp, the Irishman taking four wickets to end with 5-57.
But the day belonged to Moeen, who this week agreed a new contract to extend his time at New Road until the end of the 2013 season.
Solanki, who had struggled to 13 not out the night before, looked the more fluent for the first hour, rolling back the years with a couple of classic cover drives.
But, once Rankin's extra bounce had forced the former Worcestershire skipper into nicking one to the keeper, Moeen took control.
After surviving a confident appeal for a catch behind on 41, Moeen, who was dropped low down at point by Chopra, completed his half-century.
And, together with Stourbridge-born left-hander Pardoe, the pair made healthy progress.
Just eight runs short of what would have been the sixth first-class century of his career, Moeen was taken by spinner Ant Botha at slip.
Botha pounced again two balls later to remove Gareth Andrew before dismissing Ben Cox shortly before tea when the home side were 347-7.
But Pardoe, who began playing cricket in the flourishing youth set-up at village side Belbroughton, stayed to register his maiden first-class half-century in the second over after the break before falling to Rankin.
CLOSE OF PLAY SUMMARIES
BBC Hereford & Worcester's Dave Bradley:
"Warwickshire fought back in the last session, and there's a lot more cricket left in this game. The wicket seems to have lost its demons, but there is still the odd ball that might do something.
"Chopra looks a class act. His back foot drives will stay in the memory. But Moeen batted superbly and deserved a century.
"Young Matt Pardoe did what Steve Rhodes told him and batted for a long time, looking the part in only his second Championship game."
BBC Sport's Warwickshire correspondent Clive Eakin:
"More evidence that the batting is going to be stronger than 2010. In passing 50, the opening partners did something they managed only four times last summer in the second innings.
"Varun Chopra looks a new player. He now seems to have the confidence to strike the right balance between attack and defence.
"Warwickshire have plenty of work to do but, if they can at least match Worcestershire's first innings total, they'll have a chance."