DARYL Mitchell scored his fifth County Championship Division Two century of the campaign as Worcestershire set Gloucestershire a 401 target at New Road.

The 33-year-old opener put a lean spell behind him of 33 runs from the previous six innings in making an accomplished 130.

Then star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin struck two early blows as Gloucestershire closed on 55-3.

As on many occasions throughout his lengthy career Mitchell provided the glue which held the Worcestershire innings together.

He went to three figures off 156 balls with 10 fours and a six in his 99th appearance out of Worcestershire last 100 Championship fixtures.

It followed his 120 against Derbyshire, 161 versus Northamptonshire, 121 off the Sussex attack and 142 when facing Kent.

Mitchell was run out attempting a second run shortly before the declaration which left Gloucestershire a minimum of 121 overs to chase their daunting total.

He has amassed 894 Championship runs at an average of 47 so far this summer.

Brett D’Oliveira (55), George Rhodes (45) and Ashwin (28) all provided excellent support as the County capitalised on their first-innings lead of 105.

The declaration came at 295-8 and the hosts will hope the fourth-day weather is kind particularly with promotion rivals Sussex triumphing against Glamorgan and moving into second spot.

The County resumed on 10-0 and D’Oliveira launched an early offensive in making 55 off 58 balls and dominating an opening stand of 76 with Mitchell.

He followed up his first innings top-score of 93 by striking 10 boundaries.

D’Oliveira was bowled by Liam Norwell which triggered a minor collapse with Tom Fell falling in the same over for a second-ball duck when caught behind and Joe Clarke (5) perishing at square leg off a top-edged sweep against Tom Smith.

Rhodes proved a valuable ally in a partnership of 114 in 31 overs before he went to paddle Smith around the corner and was lbw.

Indian star Ashwin raced to 28 as a further 55 was added in nine overs with Mitchell until he chipped Norwell to mid-wicket.

Ben Cox showed positive intent with two sixes over long off at Smith’s expense.

There was a flurry of wickets before the declaration as Mitchell and Cox (15) were run out and skipper Joe Leach (7) bowled.

Leach took the new ball and after switching ends made the first breakthrough as Cameron Bancroft (14) was well caught behind by Cox.

Ashwin quickly made an impact by bowling Will Tavare for a duck and then having Chris Dent (16) caught at second slip.

He ended the day with 10-3-11-2.