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Worcestershire's promotion chances are virtually gone after defeat
5:45pm Thursday 5th September 2013 in Sport
WORCESTERSHIRE’S faint LV= County Championship Division Two promotion hopes were all but snuffed out by a clinical Essex at Chelmsford.
The hosts cruised to an eight-wicket victory that in effect ended the New Road outfit’s slim chance of an immediate return to the top-flight.
With champions-elect Lancashire well out of reach, second-placed Northamptonshire have now claimed five bonus points from their clash with Hampshire that ends today, so the Wantage Road side are already on 185 points.
Today’s poor weather forecast suggest that game will end in a draw, the extra points for which would take Northants clear of the maximum total Worcestershire could achieve if they won both of their final matches with full bonus points (186).
The Chelmsford result, however, kept third-placed Essex’s promotion hopes on track. After bowling out the County a second time for 299, Essex cruised to the 51 runs they needed for the loss of only two wickets to complete their fifth Championship victory of the summer.
Paceman Reece Topley proved Worcestershire’s chief destroyer as he finished with 5-56 and match figures of 11-85.
Resuming on 163-3 and still requiring 86 to avoid an innings defeat, the were quickly plunged into further trouble when 19-year-old Topley captured wickets with the second and fifth deliveries in his first over.
Nightwatchman David Lucas was trapped leg before, while Joe Leach edged a catch to James Foster.
That left an even bigger burden on opener Matt Pardoe, but he managed to add only 14 runs to his overnight 74 when he chased a widish delivery from Ryan ten Doeschate that ended in the hands of Jaik Mickleburgh at second slip.
Pardoe’s removal from the scene came after he had struck 12 boundaries and resisted for a shade over four hours.
At this point, the visitors were still 46 runs short of making Essex bat again, but a spirited partnership between Ross Whiteley and Shaaiq Choudhry saw them clear the arrears.
They resisted for 19 overs while adding 67 before Choudhry departed to the final ball before lunch as he snicked a catch to Foster after making 34.
Whitely was dismissed for 38 with the first delivery of the afternoon, another Foster victim, to provide Topley with his 10th wicket of the match.
A late flourish saw Jack Shantry and Alan Richardson add 29 runs, but it was the irrepressible Topley who had the final word when he removed the former - again with Foster’s help.
Essex openers Mickleburgh and Nick Browne had taken their side to within six runs of their target when they lost two wickets to left-arm spinner Choudhry .
First he had Mickleburgh caught in the gully by Moeen Ali for 28, before Greg Smith fell in identical manner in the bowler’s next over But Browne, who finished unbeaten on 22, hit the winning runs that earned the home side 23 points to put them in confident mood for their next contest against Kent at Canterbury next week. Worcestershire emerged with just three points from their labours.
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