Worcestershire v Durham: Ashwin & Barnard steer Pears close to promotion
|Specsavers County Championship Division Two, New Road (day two):|
|Worcestershire 335: Ashwin 82, Barnard 75, Clarke 65; Onions 4-68|
|Durham 142-5: Clark 60; Leach 2-16, Tongue 2-25|
|Durham trail Worcestershire by 193 runs|
|Worcestershire 4 pts, Durham 3 pts|
Worcestershire will go into day three against Durham needing just two points to clinch promotion back to Division One of the County Championship.
After resuming on 90-3 at New Road, the hosts looked like they might miss out on any batting bonus points at 132-5.
But Ravichandran Ashwin (82) and Ed Barnard (75) each hit their county-best score, allied to Joe Clarke's 65.
Having reached 335, the hosts then claimed a bowling point as Graham Clark (60) helped Durham close on 142-5.
Four more wickets on day three within the 110-over cut-off would earn Worcestershire the bowling points that would ensure that they cannot be caught by third-placed Northants.
That would secure a sixth promotion in 15 seasons and a return to the top flight for Steve Rhodes' side for the first time since 2015.
But it could happen even sooner than that if Northants fail to get any more than two batting bonus points in their game at Leicester - and they ended day two with just two wickets in hand, on 199-8.
Ashwin's biggest first-class score for more than a year was the linchpin of the hosts' innings, sharing stands of 66 with Ben Cox (30) and 86 with much improved all-rounder Barnard, who posted a fifth Championship half-century of 2017.
The departing Graham Onions, whose end-of-season exit to Lancashire was confirmed during the day's play, took two more wickets to end with 4-68.
But England opener Keaton Jennings, who is also bound for Old Trafford, was out for nine in the first innings of his final game.
He was caught behind off Josh Tongue, who took his season's tally to 47 wickets - bettered for the county this season only by captain Joe Leach's Division Two-best 65.
Worcestershire assistant coach Matt Mason told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
"The wicket hasn't played as we expected. It has seamed a lot with both new balls. Ashwin, Ben Cox and Ed Barnard all did a fantastic job in getting us our total and then the bowlers hit great areas.
"As for Josh Tongue, 14 consecutive championship matches as a fast bowler as a 19-year-old is a terrific effort. He's stayed fit, he's still challenging batters.
"This time next year, if we keeps going the way he has done, I think he will be looking at a winter tour somewhere"
"We weren't focussing too much on what is going on elsewhere. We haven't talked about a what points we need. We just want to win the game."
Durham batsman Keaton Jennings told BBC Radio Newcastle:
"I've had plenty of soul searching in the last few weeks and a few tough conversations, a few very good conversations as well.
"I'm very pleased to have made a call and I was very thankful with the backing and the support I have got from the coaching staff and management at Durham and Lancashire.
"I am looking forward to see what the future holds and I'm really excited."