Cricket: Vijay and Westley tons lead Essex to victory
PUBLISHED: 12:41 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:41 13 September 2018
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Murali Vijay led Essex to their fifth victory of the Specsavers County Championship season, compiling a high-quality century against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
The Indian Test opener, who played in the first two matches of the recent series against England, followed up his first innings score of 56 with a match-winning contribution of exactly 100.
Vijay scored his runs from 181 balls and shared in a second-wicket stand of 204 with Tom Westley, who finished with an unbeaten 110.
Set to score 282 for the win, the visitors reached their target just before lunch to complete a comfortable eight-wicket victory.
Essex began the final day in a strong position, on 147-1, requiring only 135 more.
And Vijay, who resumed on 73, was watchful for half an hour before picking off Luke Fletcher for a trio of leg-side pulled boundaries to burst into the 90s.
A scampered single from Luke Wood’s bowling took the 34-year old to his 25th first-class hundred, made from 173 balls.
His feat matched that of Hashim Amla, who scored 181 against Glamorgan in 2009, as the last Essex batsman to score a century on his county debut.
With only 61 runs required Samit Patel eventually made the breakthrough, bowling Vijay off an inside edge.
Westley’s 50 had come from 101 deliveries and his only alarm had come when Dan Lawrence called him for a risky single to get off the pair; Lyndon James’ throw narrowly missing, with Westley not in the frame.
Lawrence accelerated his side towards the finishing line but left it to his partner to stroke the winning runs through the off-side to seal Essex’s first championship win at Trent Bridge since 2003.
Westley faced 193 balls and added 61 with Lawrence, who closed on 29 not out.
Essex, the 2017 county champions, picked up 20 points from their victory and return to third spot in the Division One table, with fixtures against Worcestershire (at home) and Surrey (away) to come.
*Essex have announced that Matt Dixon is to leave the club at the conclusion of his contract.
The Australian bowler joined in 2016 from Western Australia and has played in seven first-class matches for Essex, taking 20 wickets at an average of 31.80.
His best figures for the club were 5-124 against Kent on the final day of the 2016 season as Essex were crowned the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title winners.
Dixon spent time on loan at Durham earlier this season but has found his first-team opportunities limited.
Head coach Anthony McGrath said: “Matt has been a great member of the squad and has always been extremely professional both on and off the field.
“Unfortunately he has found game time hard to come by and we have agreed it’s in his best interests to start afresh elsewhere. We’d like to thank him for his commitment and wish him the best of luck for the future.”