Gloucestershire trail Worcestershire by 156 runs with eight first-innings wickets in hand
Worcestershire helped Jon Lewis become the first English bowler this season to claim 50 first class wickets as they failed to take advantage of a sparkling start in their first Liverpool Victoria County Championship for a month.
Having won the toss and elected to bat Vikram Solanki gorged himself on some wayward bowling from Carl Greenidge, with seven fours from the bowler's first two and a bit overs, as he sped to a splendidly knockabout half-century in 49 balls.
But after the skipper was out - ten runs later - what followed was a squandered opportunity. The New Road side were all out for 271 and with the ball struggled to flush out the snakes in the pitch so expertly utilised by England cast-off Lewis who ended with 6-77.
By close of play Hamish Marshall, unbeaten on 56, had guided Gloucestershire to 115 for two, just 156 runs behind. It's looking ominous.
The hosts picked up where they had left off the night before - losing wickets, as Lou Vincent was out in the first over of the day.
Having been sent on his way, leg before, by an absolute shocker in the NatWest Pro40 game against the same opponents, there was no doubt about his dismissal this time.
Even though Lewis found his outside edge Ian Harvey still had a lot to do at first slip to take a difficult chance. The Australian plunged to his right and claimed an outstanding one-handed catch.
That brought Solanki to the wicket and the 30-year-old looked in imperious form as he and Stephen Moore pushed the score on to 57 until the latter became Lewis' second victim.
By the time he was bowled by Steve Kirby the captain had hit 12 boundaries in his runa-ball 60. When the lunch interval came Ben Smith had also departed and with the home team hovering on 147 for four their afternoon could have gone either way.
The direction was effectively decided in the third over after the break when Steve Davies was caught out by a brute from Lewis that pitched on a length but scuttled through at ankle-height. Davies lost his off-stump and Worcestershire their fifth batsmen.
The vagaries of the strip were shown up shortly afterwards when Kirby got one to spit up at Graeme Hick, take his edge and float into Matt Ball's hands at second slip. Hick had been well-placed on 40 when he was sent back and with the score on 168.
That things didn't turn completely pear-shaped was down to a seventh-wicket stand of 68 - the biggest of the card - between Roger Sillence and Gareth Batty.
They dropped anchor for a few overs before cutting loose, relative to what had gone before. Within six overs the 200 was up and when Lewis and Kirby were withdrawn they put their foot down.
Ian Harvey was deposited by Batty over the square leg boundary for six, Sillence pulled Greenidge through mid-wicket and then steered and drove Alex Gidman to the rope for fours of consecutive balls. But within ten of his first half-century for Worcester-shire, Sillence chopped Gidman straight to Ball in the gully.
Batty steered the score past 250 but was ninth man out when he became Lewis's 50th first class scalp in 2006. Ray Price lost his off pole to Greenidge to close a disappointing first innings.
In reply Gloucestershire lost the dangerous Craig Spear-man on 19 but former Worcestershire batsman Phil Weston ground their total past the 100 mark before Weston was bowled by Zaheer - his 50th wicket of the campaign too, just before the end.