Complete Control

Azhar Ali's debut hundred and the late wicket of Moeen Ali have put Somerset in complete control after day 3 at Worcester

Worcestershire v Somerset, New Road Worcester, day three, July 24th, 2018 Somerset 337 and 362-9 (Azhar 125, Trescothick 71) Worcestershire 257 (J Overton 4-61, J Davey 4-68) and 50-2

Jason Kerr couldn’t have asked for much more from his side on the third day of the Division One game at New Road. The hard work of the first two days which had produced a lead of 127 was turned into a match winning one by the end of a day in which the visitors comprehensively won each session.

But whereas the first two days were evidence of the all-round strength of this Somerset side this was a day dominated by just two batsmen. The returning Marcus Trescothick served up a glorious 71 at the top of the order off just 106 balls with 13 fours. But his was just the entrée for the main course served up by debutant Azhar Ali. He arrived when Eddie Byrom was dismissed by Moeen Ali with the score on 97 and while wickets fell regularly at the other end and no-one of his partners after Tres could pass fifty Azhar’s control was complete. 

Tom Abell, for the second time in the game, played with assurance and then got out just as he looked ready to take control before Craig Overton, Jamie Overton and Josh Davey (surely the best 8,9, 10 in county cricket) helped the new number three add 133 for the last three wickets at a rate of 4.6 and over.

The declaration came with the dismissal of Azhar Ali who made 125 off 188 balls (13 4s 2 6s) and was ninth out having scored almost exactly half the runs while he was at the crease 

The crucial runs, time, lead equation was always in Somerset’s favour at better that 3 an over but the last three partnerships accelerated the rate of scoring to such an extent that Tom Abell could declare and leave his bowlers 15 overs at the Worcestershire top order before the close.

The last ball of the day will, almost certainly be the decisive one of the match. Having already removed Daryl Mitchell the prize wicket was secured by Jamie Overton, comprehensively bowling Moeen Ali to leave the hosts on 50-2 still training by 391. Overton had given Moeen a torrid time in the first innings and his introduction for a final tilt yielded the desired result. A wicket that probably owed much to the psychological scars of the first innings working over the England all-rounder had received.

It is going to take a monumental effort by Worcestershire to save this game now while victory for Somerset would be no more than their thoroughly dominant display deserves.