WORCESTERSHIRE carved out an emphatic seven-wicket victory against Essex in their Clydesdale Bank40 Group ‘A’ battle at Chelmsford when, replying to a total of 190-9, they reached the winning post with 37 balls to spare.

Moeen Ali took the major honours as he followed up an economical spell of bowling with a magnificent 99 before he was dismissed with the visitors just eight runs from their target.

Sharing the batting limelight with him was Vikram Solanki, the pair putting together an opening century partnership without looking in the slightest trouble. Indeed, they looked so comfortable it came as something of a surprise when Solanki was bowled by left-arm spinner Tim Phillips with the total on 104 in the 17th over.

Solanki had struck seven fours when he was dismissed three short of his half-century from the 52nd ball he received.

But Ali went on to underline his class before pulling Alviro Petersen into the hands of Greg Smith at deep mid-wicket. His runs came from 98 balls with the help of seven fours and three sixes Earlier, Essex failed to make use of the solid foundations laid by openers Alastair Cook and Mark Pettini. They had put on 84 when, in the 17th over, Cook was run out after being called through for a single.

But before he could complete it, Daryl Mitchell threw down the stumps from mid-wicket to bring the England opener’s innings of 47 to an end. It contained eight fours and spanned 58 balls.

Pettini went on to make 64 from 76 deliveries with the help of two sixes and two fours, at which point he was caught in the deep attacking off-spinner Ali to leave Essex 143-5.

But either side of Pettini’s departure, batsmen struggled to come to terms with some accurate bowling backed up by fine work in the field.

David Lucas, James Cameron and Ali each displayed safe hands in the deep as Essex perished in an attempt to break free, with slow left-armer Shaaiq Choudhry being largely responsible for the decline of the innings.

The medium-paced Jack Shantry picked up 2-48 in his eight overs, while Choudhry claimed 2-37, but it was Ali who proved the most economical with Pettini’s wicket at a cost of 27 runs from his full allocation.