sport

Ali stars for Worcestershire

Moeen Ali treated Worcestershire fans to a glimpse of his international quality when making 80 from 87 balls on what is likely to be a fleeting return to New Road for the LV= County Championship clash with Glamorgan.

The only current England player to be released this week, he made the most of his time with the county as Worcestershire aimed for a victory which would put them clear of Hampshire at the top of Division Two.

Having dismissed Glamorgan for 297 - after Saeed Ajmal's fifth return of five or more wickets this season - they raced to a declaration at 299 for seven. This set the visitors a target of 355, with one over before the close which was safely negotiated by nightwatchman Andrew Salter.

Left-arm spinner Dean Cosker fought hard to keep Glamorgan in the game, pegging the home side back with five for 97 after half-centuries by Richard Oliver and Moeen in a partnership of 123 in 24 overs.

Fresh from his maiden Test century against Sri Lanka, Moeen was playing his last first-class innings before his almost certain inclusion in the England squad for the start of a new series against India at Nottingham next week.

Making an early appearance when Daryl Mitchell (11) edged a lifter from Ruaidhri Smith, the gifted left-hander quickly announced himself with a straight four and a six over mid-wicket off Salter when Glamorgan introduced the first of their spinners.

This set the scene for a series of eye-catching shots as he took nine more boundaries before he was lured into error. Leaning into an on-drive off Cosker, he miscued a simple catch to Salter at mid-off.

Cosker had earlier halted Oliver's gallop after the former Shropshire captain had given two chances on his way to 65 from 97 balls on his first-class debut.

Oliver, a regular in the county's Twenty20 side this season, was brought into championship cricket on the strength of an unbeaten 292 over nearly eight hours in a second XI friendly against Warwickshire at Barnt Green last week.

He more than justified his promotion with the power of his strokes in putting Glamorgan under pressure with a dozen boundaries.

Tom Fell followed the script with a brisk 40 until he was run out - a mix-up that led to more success for Cosker after taking nine wickets in the reverse fixture at Cardiff in April. However, his figures were damaged by Ben Cox (40 not out) and Jack Shantry, with two sixes in an unbeaten 24.

In the morning, Worcestershire duly banked maximum bowling points for the 22nd Championship match in succession, but not before they had taken a buffeting from Glamorgan's last pair.

Salter and Michael Hogan cheerfully added 68 in 14 overs after Ajmal had threatened to run through the lower order when the Welsh county resumed at 222 for six.

With Smith lbw in Joe Leach's first over, Ajmal stepped in with two wickets in four balls - Mark Wallace (36) well taken by Fell at short leg and Cosker given out leg-before.

However, Salter had no respect for reputation, confidently reverse-sweeping the Pakistan spinner on his way to an unbeaten 25, and Hogan again showed a liking for New Road after scores of 37 and 46 in last season's meeting.

This time he got to 36, hitting two sixes in a brief spell by Moeen, before Ajmal bowled him to complete a return of five for 106.