Adam Rossington and Ben Duckett starred with the bat before Richard Gleeson’s five wickets sealed a 23-run victory for Northamptonshire in the Royal London One-Day Cup at Worcestershire.
Rossington hit 87 after Duckett had earlier fallen for 86, the pair helping the Steelbacks recover from 58-3 to post a formidable 319-7. Steven Crook also hit an unbeaten half century.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore struck 119 and the hosts looked well set at 193-1 but Gleeson and Graeme White, who took 3-59, combined as Northants held firm. Gleeson’s maiden professional five-wicket haul, 5-47, saw Worcestershire bowled out for 296 in the final over.
The victory puts Northants second in the North group ahead of Sunday’s final group match at home to Derbyshire, which Alex Wakely’s men will likely need to win to secure a quarter-final place.
After being asked to bat first, Northants had lost three wickets by the 11th over, but Rossington and Duckett added 99 for the fourth wicket to get the innings back on track, and although both fell short of a century, they set the platform for Steven Crook and Rory Kleinveldt to take the score past 300.
Duckett moved up from number three to partner Josh Cobb at the top of the order, only for Cobb to hit the fifth ball of the innings from Joe Leach straight to point to fall without score. The rest of the powerplay belonged to Duckett, though, as he hit six boundaries, three in one Leach over, with good support from Rob Keogh until he was well caught, also at point, from the final ball of the tenth over.
Alex Wakely followed two balls later, lbw to Ed Barnard, and it could have been 58-4 as Duckett drove low back at Jack Shantry, the bowler unable to hang on after diving to his right.
It would prove a pivotal moment, as Duckett and Rossington set about a partnership that turned the innings firmly in the county’s favour. Duckett was on 33 at the time of the drop but quickly reached his half century as he continued his remarkable ten days.
The pair picked up the tempo as the innings progressed. 150 was reached by the midway point and Duckett looked set to follow his two England Lions centuries with one in Northants colours, but 14 short he failed to clear mid-on off Leach, his 86 making it 631 runs in seven limited overs innings in the last nine days.
He was opening in place of Rossington, whose move down the order to number five brought instant rewards as he reached his second half century in the competition, keeping the boundary count flowing whilst sharing crucial partnerships with Rob Newton and Crook.
Like Duckett, he fell within sight of three figures, hitting Leach to long-on with ten overs remaining but Crook and Kleinveldt ensured the innings didn’t fall flat with a seventh-wicket stand of 76. He clubbed two sixes and four fours in his 37, before holing out in the final over, whilst Crook played the support role with a run-a-ball 52 as Northants recorded their highest one-day total against Worcestershire.
It left the hosts needing a record chase and captain Daryl Mitchell got his side off to a solid start with 43, as Northants failed to claim early wickets, Azharullah striking to bowl Mitchell in the 15th over.
Kohler-Cadmore had played the support role to Mitchell in the opening stand of 68, but found his feet in adding a further 125 with Tom Fell, as the pair kept alive hopes of chasing the mammoth total, keeping on top of the required run-rate, which remained around seven.
However, they could never reduce it and, as so often in recent weeks, it was Gleeson who provided the crucial breakthrough in the 33rd over, Fell backing away to be bowled for a run-a-ball 54.
From that point onwards, Northants turned the screw. Tight bowling saw the rate ever increase, Alex Kerveezee caught and bowled by White whilst Brett D’Oliveira played on off Kleinveldt, meaning that by the time Kohler-Cadmore brought up his century 98 were needed from the last ten.
Ross Whiteley hit two huge sixes to reduce that to 58, but White returned to strike the double blow in the 45th over, having Whiteley caught at long-on before Kohler-Cadmore was bowled two balls later.
Gleeson then wrapped up the innings as Joe Leach was bowled and in the final over, Ed Barnard and Ben Cox both skied catches to Azharullah at cover, before he completed his maiden professional five-wicket haul with Jack Shantry caught at mid-off.