WAYNE Madsen’s unbeaten century enabled Derbyshire to rally back from losing four wickets for five runs either side of lunch to post a competitive first-innings total of 219 in the LV= County Championship Division Two contest with Worcestershire.
In reply, the New Road hosts reached the close on 31-0 but, with day one having been all but washed out, both sides face a race against time to force a result in the last two days.
Madsen (111 not out) batted excellently with the tail to lead his side from a perilous 83-6 to a respectable total on a bowler-friendly pitch.
Pakistan ace Saeed Ajmal kicked off his second stint as Worcestershire’s overseas player with four wickets, including two in two balls, but the New Road side will feel they let their opponents off the hook.
The day began with West Indies veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Madsen slowly helping their side recover from an overnight score of 3-2.
Chanderpaul was handed a lifeline on 19 when skipper Daryl Mitchell put down a tough chance going to his left at second slip off Charlie Morris.
Fortunately for the captain, it didn’t prove costly, though, as Gareth Andrew beat the veteran of 153 Tests’ attempted drive to win an lbw decision.
Chanderpaul made 32 – the first time he’d been dismissed for less than 50 in five innings so far this term - in a stand of 75 in 31 overs.
Andrew’s dismissal of Chanderpaul was timely, coming in the penultimate over before lunch, and he also struck with the fifth ball after the resumption.
The in-form seamer, who claimed match figures of 8-85 in the 125-run win against Kent last time out, beat Chesney Hughes’ defensive push to trap him lbw, despite the batsman putting in a big stride down the pitch.
Derbyshire's collapse gathered pace as off-spinner Saeed removed Wes Durston (2) courtesy of a catch at short-leg from Ross Whiteley before pinning wicketkeeper Dan Hodgson on the back pad first ball.
David Wainwright (10) helped Madsen steady the ship slightly with a partnership of 38, but Mitchell brought Morris back into the attack and he was rewarded immediately.
Wainwright played back and across at the Hereford-born bowler but was rapped on the back pad and sent back to the pavilion.
More smart captaincy from Mitchell saw Saeed brought back, but switched from the Diglis End to the New Road End, and he removed the sweeping Tony Palladino swiftly thanks to a smart low catch at square-leg by Morris.
Tim Groenewald (24) played his part in the Derbyshire recovery, but was undone by a short delivery from Morris that he could only fend to Matt Pardoe at short-leg.
However, in tandem with Madsen, who reached his century off 228 balls, the ninth-wicket pair added 56 to give their side a foothold in the game.
Last man Mark Footitt backed away and swung wildly to contribute 17 before being well caught by Alexei Kervezee at extra-cover, before Mitchell (13no) and Pardoe (10no) saw the County safely to the close.
Meanwhile, spinner Shaaiq Choudhry, who made way for Saeed for this match, is out of action for three to four weeks after suffering a broken thumb while playing club cricket at the weekend.