Leicestershire triumph in thrilling finale
Rob Taylor followed up Ramnaresh Sarwan’s superb hundred with an unbeaten 10-ball 22 as Leicestershire staged a stunning late fightback to defeat Worcestershire by four wickets in the Clydesdale Bank 40 Group A match at Grace Road.
The hosts looked certain to fall short when they entered the penultimate over requiring 29, with two new batsmen at the crease after Sarwan’s dismissal for 100 off 86 deliveries, which was swiftly followed by the exits of Matthew Boyce and Ned Eckersley.
Sixteen were still needed from the last set of six, but Taylor pulled a David Lucas no-ball to the fence and scrambled four twos before driving the final delivery of the match through the covers for another boundary.
Worcestershire had earlier posted 214 for five after being invited to bat first in a game shortened to 31 overs a side following a delayed start.
Moeen Ali and Vikram Solanki got the visitors’ innings off to a flying start with 40 and 34 respectively, and the prolific Phil Hughes, who struck 57 not out, received able support from James Cameron and captain Daryl Mitchell.
The latter cracked 44 from 29 deliveries and conceded just 13 in his first four overs with the ball as the pressure on the batsmen increased.
Yet it was Leicestershire who ultimately prevailed to ensure Sarwan’s elegant innings did not go to waste. They now sit just one point behind Worcestershire, who could have gone second with a win, and retain slim hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
Moeen looked in fine touch and struck four successive boundaries off Nathan Buck before being caught at mid-on off Taylor.
Solanki was then bowled playing across the line to the same bowler, although by that stage the veteran batsman had collected consecutive straight-driven fours in an erratic first over from James Sykes yielding 17.
Sykes bounced back by bowling Cameron, who made 29, only for Mitchell, dropped on four by Michael Thornely at short midwicket, to provide late impetus as Hughes accumulated steadily at the other end.
Worcestershire’s skipper was run out in the penultimate over and Gareth Andrew followed for nought, but Leicestershire still faced a daunting chase.
Sarwan and Josh Cobb made healthy initial progress before the latter was caught and bowled off a full toss from Jack Shantry, who parried the ball into the air with his left hand before completing the catch.
Greg Smith chipped in with 34, including an enormous straight six off Moeen, but he was also ousted by a Shantry delivery that did not pitch when he picked out short midwicket in the 21st over.
West Indian Sarwan was dropped by Cameron at mid-off on 63 to deny Shantry a third scalp, but Worcestershire struck again when Thornely holed out to deep midwicket off yet another full toss, this time from Moeen.
Sarwan upped the pace in the closing overs, striking straight sixes off Mitchell and then Lucas to bring up an 85-ball hundred.
He was bowled by the latter without adding to his tally, one of three wickets in the space of five deliveries, but Leicestershire responded superbly and Will Jones scooped Andrew for four before Taylor’s late heroics.