Solanki leads by example
Vikram Solanki struck an unbeaten half-century to guide Worcestershire to a six-wicket victory over Northamptonshire in the Friends Life t20.
The Royals recovered from a shaky start to reach their target with three deliveries to spare, with Solanki making 62 not out off 61 balls and David Lucas’ 3-18 coming in vain.
Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal had earlier registered superb figures of 4-14 as the rock-bottom Steelbacks again batted poorly in making just 129 for nine from 20 overs, with 17-year-old seamer Aneesh Kapil claiming an excellent 3-9.
Northamptonshire won the toss and chose to bat, but they lost Bilal Shafayat for a four-ball duck in the fourth over when he chipped Gareth Andrew to James Cameron at cover.
Fellow opener Rob White clattered 33 off 27 balls before launching Kapil high into the air, Cameron taking the catch at point.
Steelbacks wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien then scored at the same rate as White before he departed when he smashed Kapil straight to Solanki at long-on.
Alex Wakely followed four deliveries later when he edged Kapil to Worcestershire wicketkeeper Ben Scott to give the youngster his third wicket.
South Africa international Johan Botha plundered 17 before he hammered Andrew to Jack Shantry at long-off before Ajmal then trapped Andrew Hall lbw, with the Northamptonshire captain departing for a duck.
Ajmal bowled a triple-wicket maiden in the final over as he pinned Rob Newton lbw for 22 before both Stephen Peters and Lucas were caught and bowled without scoring.
Chasing 130, the Royals lost Moeen Ali for seven in the second over when he smashed Lucas straight to Lee Daggett at extra cover.
The same fate befell Holland international Alexei Kervezee, who chipped a loose shot to Daggett, again at extra cover, off Lucas.
Daggett’s searing delivery then clattered into Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan’s stumps before Hall caught Cameron superbly at midwicket off the bowling of Lucas to reduce the visitors to 45 for four.
But they regained their composure in the middle of their innings and they needed 41 runs off their last five overs with Solanki and skipper Daryl Mitchell at the crease.
Solanki reached 50 off as many balls as he and Mitchell, 40 not out off 31 balls, shared an unbroken 85-run partnership and Solanki knocked the two winning runs through extra cover off Daggett.