One-Day Cup: Essex ease to eight-wicket win over Worcestershire
Royal London One-Day Cup, New Road
Essex 242-2 (42.2 overs) beat Worcestershire 238-7 (50 overs) by eight wickets
Essex opener Mark Pettini hit an unbeaten century as his side cruised to an eight-wicket win over Worcestershire in their opening One-Day Cup game.
Graham Napier (4-59) removed Richard Oliver and Tom Fell with the first two balls of the match, but the hosts recovered to 238-7 thanks to Joe Leach (45 no) and Shaaiq Choudhry (44 no).
Pettini shared 109 with Ravi Bopara (59) to set the visitors on course.
Jesse Ryder then smashed an unbeaten 68 while Pettini finished on 102 not out.
After Napier's extraordinary burst at the start the game, Worcestershire lost wickets at regular intervals and slumped to 145-7 in the 39th over.
But Leach and Choudhry made sure the home side had a respectable total to defend with an unbroken eighth wicket partnership of 93.
Tom Westley edged Mitchell McClenaghan behind early in the Essex reply, but Pettini and Bopara ensured there were no further alarms with their century stand before Bopara was bowled by Leach.
His dismissal brought New Zealander Ryder to the crease who set about the attack as he brought up his half century off just 38 balls and blasted six fours and five sixes in total.
Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes:
"We had a bad start with the bat and with five wickets down it was a struggle to get a decent total.
"The two lads (Leach and Choudhry) played well to get us something to bowl at.
"The pitch made a big difference. It was a lot slower when they batted whereas it nipped around early doors."
Essex coach Paul Grayson:
"It was a good start to the competition with two wickets in the first over and after that we were very good for perhaps 25 overs.
"We let it slip towards the end when they got 20 or 30 more than we would have liked, but we were very clinical with the bat."