DAY 3 Close: Worcestershire 278 & 8-0 need another 331 to beat Gloucestershire 480 & 136 (PTS: Worcs 4, Glos 7)
LIVE ball-by-ball commentary: www.gloscricketradio.co.uk
A remarkable day's cricket saw Gloucestershire fired out for just 136 after deciding not to enforce the follow-on at Cheltenham. Worcestershire need a large chase to win but they have overcome such targets before here.
Psychology plays a large part in sport, Alex Gidman knows that. He obviously felt the psychological effect of batting last on a wearing pitch was more damaging to his team than the benefits of driving the opposition into the dirt when already down.
That dilemma faced the Gloucestershire skipper after efficient work with the second new ball allowed his side to take a 202 lead on first-innings. He will look very foolish if the home side don't go on to take their first championship victory at Cheltenham since 2001. He effectively wasted 40 overs as his side didn't get out of sight with the bat.
He had an opportunity to get a demoralised - and in Daryll Mitchell's case, quite very - batting line-up back into the middle. 202 is a huge lead and there was a chance that more efficient bowling could have seen the game wrapped up by an innings.
What transpired was the opportunity for the visitors to show some character in the field. They certainly did. Shakib-al-Hasan could never have dreamt of picking up a five-for from where the game was placed but a series of batting errors saw him pick up his maiden milestone haul and made Gloucestershire look ridiculous, capitulating to 136 all out.
It was unbelievable stuff. The mood was so lackadaisical and no-one particularly knew the way to play. Hamish Marshall was aggressive, James Franklin defensive - both were dismissed cheaply as the home side slumped but about ended up where the game needed them to be.
339 is achievable for Worcestershire and it won't be a case of shut up shop from ball one. The carrot is very much dangling and Gloucestershire need inroads to ensure it is they that are pushing for victory come the final hour.
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