Worcestershire dominated the second day of their Specsavers County Championship clash against Lancashire with both bat and ball to sit in a commanding position heading into day three.
They took just 14.5 overs to wrap up the remaining five wickets of Lancashire’s first innings and claim a lead of 61 at Southport.
The visitors then recovered from an early wobble to bat themselves firmly in the ascendancy and pile the pressure on bottom-of-the-table Lancashire.
Chasing target of 314, Lancashire closed eight for none.
Josh Tongue had starred with the ball at the end of the opening day and picked up a five-wicket haul by taking the first wicket of the morning in Toby Lester and then rounding off the Lancashire innings by dismissing Jordan Clark.
A terrible mix-up between Clark and Josh Bohannon saw the latter run out and Wayne Parnell took two wickets in an over as Lancashire added just 65 to their overnight total.
They were dismissed for 161, their batting once again undermining the efforts of their bowling attack.
The spearhead of that attack is Division One’s leading wicket-taker Tom Bailey. Following on from his four wickets in the first innings, he quickly set about bringing optimism to the Lancashire ranks by picking up three quick wickets before lunch.
Bailey removed Daryl Mitchell and Tom Fell, with a superb delivery in between to send Joe Clarke’s middle-stump cartwheeling with one that nipped back and beat the right-hander all ends up.
At lunch Worcestershire were 44-3 and in need of stabilising. That came through a gritty and vital half-century partnership between Alex Milton and Ben Cox.
The pair came together after Brett D’Oliveira fell and put on 61 for the fifth wicket to hand control back to the Pears. Together they took Worcestershire’s lead up to 178 which, given the low-scoring nature of the match, was a crucial contribution.
Lancashire’s latest addition to their spin bowling ranks, South Africa Test spinner Keshav Maharaj, broke the first partnership with his first wicket for the Red Rose.
He dismissed both Milton and Cox, for 37 and 40 respectively, and would also claim the wicket of fellow South African Wayne Parnell.
But not before his countryman had made a wonderful half-century. Parnell succeeded where many had failed on a testing surface, timing the ball perfectly with five fours and a six.
He fell two balls after reaching his landmark, but the damage was done.
Worcestershire were all out for 252, leaving Lancashire a victory target of 314 – one which appears an enormous challenge on a bowler-friendly wicket.
They were left with three overs to bat at the end of the day. Haseeb Hameed and nightwatchman Toby Lester saw them to the close unscathed.