Moeen Ali marked his return to Worcestershire action with with a half century but his side were dismissed in bowler-friendly conditions for 188 by Northamptonshire in the opening Specsavers County Championship clash of the campaign.

The England all-rounder marked his first Championship appearance for almost a year by reaching his half century off 87 balls.

But only Daryl Mitchell (30) and Joe Clarke (33) made sizeable contributions of the other batsmen after they batted first via an uncontested toss.

Moeen Ali returned to the Worcestershire line-up in place of Jack Shantry in the only change from the side which overcame Glamorgan by eight wickets at the SWALEC Stadium.

Northants strengthened their depleted bowling resources, with Ben Sanderson and Rory Kleinveldt both injured, by signing former Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire paceman Andy Carter.

Skipper Alex Wakely was also missing because of family reasons with Josh Cobb leading the side in his absence.

The visitors opted to bowl after an uncontested toss and Mohammad Azharullah struck an early blow as Brett D'Oliveira (5) pushed forward and edged through to keeper Adam Rossington.

Moeen came to the wicket and greeted Carter's entry into the attack by pulling his first delivery over the short legside boundary.

Azharullah bowled a testing opening spell of 7-4-7-1 but Mitchell looked in good form, cutting Carter for four as the 50 partnership with Moeen came up in 15 overs.

Mitchell (30) and Tom Fell (5) then departed in successive overs, both lbw to Steven Crook and Azharullah respectively.

But Moeen and Clarke saw the innings through to lunch at 92-3 off 28 overs.

The fourth wicket pair added a further 25 runs after the interval and Moeen completed a hard fought half century off 87 balls with three fours and a six.

But two balls later the 29-year-old drove at Carter and was bowled and in the same over Tom Kohler-Cadmore (0) shouldered arms to a delivery which cut back in and hit his off stump.

Carter made it three wickets in 11 balls when Ben Cox (4) nicked a ball of extra bounce through to Rossington.

Ed Barnard (1) went the same way to a ball which followed his defensive prod off Buck.

Clarke continued to play in stylish fashion but after making 33 he was leg before to Crook.

Skipper Joe Leach survived one chance at mid wicket and made a useful 20 before he drove Buck to cover.

The innings ended when Josh Tongue (4) lofted Buck to mid on to leave John Hastings unbeaten on 20 after his half century at Cardiff.