Royal London Cup 2018
Thu 7 June, 14:00

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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One Day Cup Report: Warwickshire v Worcestershire

Worcestershire booked a home semi-final against Nottinghamshire or Kent in the Royal London Cup by seeing off arch-rivals Warwickshire by one wicket in a real nail-biter at Edgbaston.

Joe Leach’s side staved off a late fightback by the Bears to secure the narrowest of victories – and top spot in the North Group.

Chasing Warwickshire’s 292, Worcestershire seemed cruising when they needed 21 from 11 overs with five wickets in hand.

But they ended up scrambling home by one wicket as Dillon Pennington (three from 20 balls), on his first-team debut, and Ed Barnard (13 not out from 14), added surely the first partnership of nine runs in five overs ever to be decisive in a List A game.

Put in, Warwickshire totalled 292 for seven as the visitors bowled well early on with only Sam Hain (68, 84 balls, eight fours), of the Bears’ in-form top order, staying long. Only a partnership of 133 in 19 overs between Tim Ambrose (75, 73 balls, six fours) and Will Rhodes (69, 56 balls, nine fours) kept the Bears in the game.

Worcestershire’s reply was then given a lightning start by Moeen Ali’s 11th List A century. Moeen rode his luck for 114 (74 balls, 12 fours and five sixes) – pyrotechnics which put Worcestershire in the box seat, though it was Ben Cox’s classy 80 (85 balls, nine fours) which brought the best batting of the day.

Warwickshire had found the early going tough against disciplined bowling. Moeen set the tone with two tight overs during which Ed Pollock was caught at deep mid-wicket. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell fell early but Hain passed 50 for the fifth time in six innings, before reverse-sweeping Ali to short third man. When Dom Sibley was caught behind, Warwickshire were 126 for five.

Ambrose and Rhodes rebuilt, the latter improvising effectively before becoming the first List A victim for Pennington. Ambrose lifted Morris to deep mid-wicket in the penultimate over but 66 runs had arrived from the last five.

Worcestershire’s chase suffered early setbacks when Joe Clarke tickled Olly Stone leg-side to the wicketkeeper and  Callum Ferguson was bowled by Stone off an inside-edge.

Daryl Mitchell was run out by Jeetan Patel’s direct hit and when Brett D’Oliviera fell lbw to Henry Brookes, at 93 for four, the game was in the balance.

Two key partnerships followed as Moeen and Ben Cox added 105 in 13 overs and, after yet another Moeen miscue finally found a fielder, Cox and Ross Whiteley (47, 39 balls, five fours, two sixes) piled on 84 in 13 overs.

When they fell in successive overs, Warwickshire had late hope with 18 needed and three wickets left. After Brookes yorked Joe Leach, Barnard and Pennington took their side within a boundary of victory and, though the latter fell lbw to Barker, Barnard then cover-drove the requisite boundary.

Patel ready for mouth-watering derby

The stakes could not be much higher when Warwickshire face old rivals Worcestershire in the final round of Royal London Cup north group games at Edgbaston tomorrow (2pm).

Any derby clash between the teams is to savour but few over the years have been as mouth-watering as this. Both sides are in excellent white-ball form – and the incentive to win is huge.

With the two teams sitting first and second in the group, the victors tomorrow will book themselves a home semi-final.

The losers, meanwhile, will need results elsewhere to fall a certain way even to qualify.

It is a complex equation with Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire also still in the hunt – but captain Jeetan Patel insists the Bears must put all the permutations out of mind and focus solely on what they can control.

“All we are thinking about is how to beat Worcestershire,” he said. “The table is very tight and we have still got to win to even be sure of qualifying, so we’ll just concentrate on trying to win the game and then see where they takes us.

“It’s all set to be a fantastic Edgbaston occasion. Worcestershire are playing some good cricket at the moment but so are we. It will be great to be able to showcase our skills in that environment. A big match at Edgbaston – what better place to perform.”

Both sides are in fine form in 50-over cricket. Worcestershire top the group after five wins from seven games with their success fuelled mainly by big totals thanks not least to Australian batsman Callum Ferguson who smashed 192 against Leicestershire and an unbeaten 159 against Northamptonshire.

But the Bears are also on a roll having, in their last three completed games, beaten Nottinghamshire by 108 runs, Durham by five wickets and Leicestershire by nine wickets.

“We’re off the back of three very good performances,” Patel said. “The way we performed at Notts was outstanding, then to go up and chase 300 at Durham was excellent.

“Then against Leicestershire we were as professional and as clinical as could be. Right from the first ball when Keith Barker swung the ball in and hit Horton on the pad, that really set the tone. We took important wickets and the way we fielded was excellent.

“In recent games the batsmen have delivered, so have the bowlers and we’ve been really good in the field. It has been a true all-round effort – now we just have to make sure we tick those boxes again against Worcestershire.”

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