Irani's blitz turns the tide for shaky Essex

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The Independent Online
Ronnie Irani is developing quite a liking for New Road, but he is not particularly interested in hanging around to admire the beautiful Worcester scenery, writes Mark Burton. Yesterday he dallied for only 86 balls over hitting an unbeaten 110 to steer Essex to victory after they had run into unexpected difficulty in mustering the 187 they needed to beat Worcestershire.

Two years ago, the England A all-rounder made 119 when Essex scored 405 to win, but he could not have expected the chance of a repeat, even if Essex did allow Worcestershire to make 415 in a second-innings that looked to be collapsing when, resuming at 246 for 5, the home side lost David Leatherdale and Stuart Lampitt in nine balls.

From there Worcestershire put on 159, with Phil Newport, making 68 and Richard Illingworth 66 in a 100 partnership.

Having let things slip, Essex then plunged to 32 for 5 before the Lancastrian Irani was joined by the Yorkshireman Paul Grayson for a partnership that came up roses. Irani hit five sixes and 12 fours, while Grayson helped himself to 46 not out as the pair added an unbeaten 158 for the fifth wicket to see Essex home with 16 balls to spare.

Adam Hollioake hit his second century of the match to guide Surrey to safety on a tedious final day against Somerset at Taunton. Starting 191 behind, the visitors appeared to face a testing three sessions, but against a medium-pace attack lacking variation, Hollioake followed up a first- innings 128 with 117 not out.

Durham had their sights set on victory but were left clinging on for a draw against Northamptonshire at Chester-le-Street. Set a target of 222 in 44 overs, they closed on 168 for 7.