Worcestershire held their nerve to win by one wicket in what was an absolute thriller at Edgbaston. Ed Barnard hit the winning runs in the 46th over to spark wild celebrations as the Pears secured a home semi-final for the second year in a row and eliminated Warwickshire from the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Moeen Ali broke the back of the chase with a quite brilliant 114 off 75 balls, 78 of those runs coming in boundaries alone. The England all-rounder initially had to counter-punch after Olly Stone had burst through Worcestershire’s top order.
The 24-year-old dismissed Joe Clarke with the very first ball of the innings, strangled down the leg side. Callum Ferguson, who came into this match with an average of 178.50 in the competition, was beaten for pace as he dragged on to leave his side 22-2 in the third over.
But Moeen Ali kept up the momentum for the Pears with a brutal array of shots; the 30-year-old hitting Stone out of the attack as he took 29 off ten deliveries the young quick bowled to him. He passed 50 in the 10th over off just 25 balls, and brought up his century just 12 overs later off 98 balls.
Ben Cox and Ross Whiteley continued the good run rate after Ali was dismissed, taking the score to 272-5 in the process. Stone returned to dismiss Whiteley thanks to a terrific one-handed catch from Ed Pollock. And when Cox dragged a Henry Brookes delivery onto his stumps, Warwickshire were back in the contest.
Those who had left Edgbaston early, such was Worcestershire’s probability of victory, would have instantly regretted their decision as the Bears’ faithful grew louder with every wicket.
Captain Joe Leach, who had be unable to field for much of Warwickshire’s innings due to a back injury, was knocked over by a searing yorker from Brookes to leave the visitors eight down and rocking with still 14 required.
Keith Barker trapped debutant Dillon Pennington with his last delivery of his spell with Worcestershire needing five to win. But the game was all but decided when Barker slipped up as he went to collect a simple offering down at third man, the ball trickling under his feet and into the rope to leave the Pears needing one to win.
A cruel way for such a thrilling match to be decided as Ed Barnard hit the winning runs two balls later to take his side through.
Earlier, contributions from Tim Ambrose (75) and Will Rhodes (69) rescued Warwickshire from a precarious situation of 126-5 as the pair shared a stand of 133 inside 20 overs. Sam Hain, too, played nicely for 68 as the trio amassed the only significant contributions of the innings. Warwickshire would have been the happier of the two sides at the halfway stage given the advantage of bowling under lights with the added pace of their bowling attack.
But this Worcestershire side appear to have an increased will to win that may have hindered their success in previous years. An added assurance in situations that would’ve previously brought about their downfall. They have topped the North Group for the second year in a row; now they are only one win away from a Lords final – could this be their year?