DEBUTANT Ravichandran Ashwin saw Brett D’Oliveira celebrate his new Worcestershire contract with a top score of 93 on the opening day of the County Championship clash with Gloucestershire at sun-soaked New Road.

Indian star all-rounder Ashwin has started a four-game spell at New Road as the County strive to reinforce their Division Two promotion credentials and he looked full of class in making 36 in the middle order.

But the main innings of the day came from D’Oliveira who along with Ed Barnard has committed his long-term future to the County with new deals.

The 25-year-old fell just short of his third Championship hundred of the campaign but his efforts were a key component in the hosts totalling 338-7 from 98 overs on a used pitch.

There were useful contributions all down the batting order and now the County will hope Ashwin can work the kind of magic with the ball which has brought him 292 Test wickets.

Gloucestershire opted for a toss but lost out as home skipper Joe Leach decided to bat first on a pitch used for the England and India under 19s four-day Test and a T20 Blast fixture.

Paceman Liam Norwell struck an early blow as Daryl Mitchell (6) went for a drive and Cameron Bancroft held onto a low chance at first slip.

But he then dislocated the little finger on his bowling hand fielding a return shot from new batsman Tom Fell and went for a hospital X-ray.

Norwell did not return to the attack until after tea when the second new ball was taken.

Spin was introduced as early as the 13th over via Tom Smith.  Fell has experienced a poor summer with the bat but looked in good form during a stand of 72 in 26 overs with D’Oliveira.

He went past his previous highest Championship score of 35 in 2017 but added only three more before he was lbw to Smith.

D’Oliveira was not afraid to use his feet and lofted Jack Taylor for a straight six and repeated the stroke against Smith.

Joe Clarke reeled off a series of exquisite drives in making 32 but would have been disappointed with the way a casual flick off his legs from Kieran Noema-Barnett ended up in the hands of short mid-wicket.

Smith enjoyed a second success as George Rhodes (19) played back and nicked to George Hankins at first slip.

D’Oliveira continued to score freely but on 93 played forward to Smith and Hankins completed the catch after Will Tavare initially got a hand to the ball at second slip.  His 188-ball knock contained two sixes and 10 fours.

Ashwin was warmly applauded on his way to the wicket in what is arguably Worcestershire’s most high-profile overseas player since Glenn McGrath in 2000.

He looked full of composure and class and it soon became evident why he often bats in India’s top six.

Ashwin made 36 off 50 balls with a six and four fours before being undone by a ball of extra bounce with the second new ball from Norwell which was edged to Chris Dent at second slip.

But wicketkeeper Ben Cox (56 not out) and Barnard ensured Worcestershire remained on top during a partnership of 86 in 15 overs before the latter on 46 from 49 balls was run out after a mix-up.