Derbyshire 32 for 2 trail Worcestershire 237 (Libby 78, Dal 5-45) by 205 runs

Anuj Dal again enjoyed himself at Worcestershire’s expense as bottom-placed Derbyshire put their injury problems in the bowling department behind them to bring about a collapse by the home side on day one of the LV=Insurance County Championship encounter at New Road.

Dal had scored a hundred and a fifty plus picking up a five-for in the corresponding fixture in 2022 after scoring a century in the match between the teams at the Incora County Ground. He continued in that vein by returning figures of 18.3-5-45-5 as Worcestershire, who were 105 for 1 at one stage, were dismissed for 237 in 83.3 overs.

The Peakites were without frontline bowlers Saranga Lakmal, Zak Chappell and Sam Conners and in addition Ben Aitchison limped off after being unable to complete an over. But Derbyshire, who signed Surrey’s Conor McKerr on loan for a third spell at the club, stuck to their task against a Worcestershire side who themselves had fitness problems.

Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira, Jack Haynes and Kashif Ali were all ruled out and it meant handing a debut to rookie pro Rehaan Edavalath in addition to India pace bowler Navdeep Saini.

Stand-in skipper Jake Libby continued his rich vein of form by top-scoring with 78 to take his run tally to 373 in his last three knocks. But only fellow opener Gareth Roderick and Adam Hose offered him much substantial support.

Saini, who played for Kent in the Championship last summer, struck with his first delivery to dismiss Harry Came and Derbyshire ended on 32 for 2 after losing Luis Reece to the final delivery of the day from Dillon Pennington.

Libby opted to bat after winning the toss and he and Roderick scored freely against the Kookaburra ball which is being used during the next two rounds of Championship matches.

They completed their third successive half-century stand since joining forces at the top of the order in the previous Championship game against Sussex. The partnership was worth 70 when Roderick was bowled through the gate by Aitchison with a delivery that nipped back.

The game started to swing in Derbyshire’s favour once Azhar Ali was dismissed to the final delivery before lunch when he drove at Dal and was caught at slip.

Edavalath came out for his maiden innings at the start of the afternoon session but lasted only three balls before he missed a straight delivery from Dal and was lbw for nought.

Libby completed an excellent half century from 106 balls with a push through the covers for two off Dal who bowled a probing 10 over spell either side of lunch of 10-2-32-2.

Hose has been in prime form in Championship and T20 cricket and he again looked in good touch and helped Libby add 54 in untroubled fashion. But Hose edged Nick Potts to slip and Libby’s fine knock was brought to an end by Dal with keeper Brooke Guest holding onto the chance. Libby has now scored 614 first class runs this summer, the third highest figure on Division Two.

Ed Pollock, recalled to the Championship side, got his head down but was dismissed to the last ball before tea when he shouldered arms to Dal and was bowled.

Matthew Waite showed positive after the interval, striking Aitchison for three boundaries in the first over to bring up the 200. But he was bowled on 19 by a delivery from McKerr which nipped back a long way.

Joe Leach clipped McKerr tamely into the hands of mid wicket and Josh Baker pushed forward to Luis Reece and was bowled. Dal completed his five-for by shattering Pennington’s stumps.

Saini made the perfect start as Came offered no shot to a delivery angled into him and was bowled and then Reece edged the final delivery of the day from Pennington to first slip.


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