Lancashire secured a hard-fought six-wicket victory over Worcestershire midway through the third afternoon at Emirates Old Trafford to leapfrog them at the top of Specsavers County Championship Division Two.
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Chasing 126 on a challenging surface, Lancashire slipped to 32-4 before lunch only to recover through their South African captain Dane Vilas and Rob Jones, who shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 95 inside 30 overs.
Vilas led the way with 60 not out off 89 balls, while Jones finished unbeaten on 31.
Lancashire have maximum points after three games and this is the first time they have won their first three Championship matches in a campaign since 1995.
Worcester’s second innings was wrapped up in the morning’s fourth over for the addition of only five more runs to an overnight 149-9 in front of 1,500 children for Schools’ Open Day.
Richard Gleeson had Joe Leach caught at mid-off by Jimmy Anderson following a miscue to secure his third five-wicket haul in four innings.
Having claimed five wickets in each innings of the home victory against Northamptonshire last week, the Blackpool seamer finished with figures of 5-37 from 17.2 overs.
While Gleeson claimed six wickets in the match, England’s Anderson picked up seven, five in the first innings.
Sixteen years ago today, Anderson made his Test debut against Zimbabwe at Lord’s.
Lancashire were then rocked early in their chase. Captain Leach struck twice with the new ball added to a wicket apiece for Charlie Morris and Ed Barnard.
Morris made the initial breakthrough when he had Haseeb Hameed caught at first slip by Riki Wessels with the 12th ball of the innings before Barnard trapped Jake Lehmann lbw in the 10th over.
Leach then struck twice in as many balls in the 13th over to set nerves jangling in the home dressing room. He forced Keaton Jennings (23) to play on and had Liam Livingstone caught by Wessels for a golden duck.
Vilas and Jones took the score to 59-4 at lunch before snuffing out Worcester’s chances afterwards with more calm and composed batting.
When Vilas clipped Leach through mid-wicket for four to move into the 30s, he brought up a half-century stand inside 20 overs.
When Vilas reached his 50 off 73 balls, driving Barnard back down the ground for his seventh four.
The visitors added far more to this fixture than their haul of three points suggests and will remain confident of keeping pace with Lancashire in pursuit of a top-three finish for promotion.
Lancashire start their next match at Gloucestershire on Monday and won’t return to Old Trafford until mid-July as their home venue prepares for six World Cup fixtures.
Jones said: "It was a bit of a grind this week, a bit of a weird game to be honest. A lot of wickets fell for not many runs but thankfully we got over the line. It was a great knock from Dane. To come in in that situation and play how he did was brilliant.
"It was a bit of a new ball wicket. Once you got through that you could just look to play straight and grind them down. It was just one partnership we needed. Myself and Dane just said, 'Keep going, ride it through and it will be easier later on'. That's what happened.
"After lunch, we came out with a positive mindset. It was all about stopping their momentum. It's always nice to be there at the end, but ultimately it's about doing it for the team and getting the win. To go three from three is great. I'm delighted for everyone involved."
"With this batch of nine or 10 games before T20, hopefully we can really push on and keep ourselves at the top of the table. That makes our job easier at the back end."