THREE wickets in a dramatic final over from Chris Russell helped Worcestershire clinch a thrilling eight-run victory against Derbyshire as their impressive T20 Blast form continued.
Derbyshire needed 15 runs off the final six balls to chase down a target of 178, but Russell held his nerve with the ball taking three vital wickets which helped extend his side’s winning run in the competition to five games.
The hosts will have been left hugely disappointed to come out on the losing end especially when they looked like they did all the hard yards to gain their first win of the competition when captain Wayne Madsen and Australian Marcus North looked like they were seeing them through to the big target.
The dramatic win at the 3aaa County Ground keeps Worcestershire top of the North Division group as the possibility of reaching the quarter-final stages became closer to a reality. It is the first time in the club’s history they have won five successive T20 matches.
But the record-breaking fifth successive win looked off the cards when Madsen and North shared an impressive fifth-wicket stand which saw Derbyshire take charge of the contest going from 85-4 to 148-4 – needing a manageable 30 runs off the final three overs.
However the County Ground crowd were to see a major twist in the finale which stemmed from the wicket of Masden who fell for 65 when he was caught by Munro at the boundary off the bowling of Jack Shantry in the 19th over – ending his 75-run partnership with North at 160-5.
Needing 18 to win off nine balls, Derbyshire’s elusive first win suddenly seemed a challenge with Madsen back in the pavilion. North and new batsman Scott Elstone could only manage three runs over the remainder of the over meaning they needed 15 off the final over.
Bowling at the death, Russell started with a dot ball only for North to smack a four the next ball reducing the target to eleven off four. But North top edged the third delivery up in the air for Russell to take a vital catch to get rid of the dangerous batsman for 38.
Elstone hit two runs the next ball to keep his side’s hopes alive but the contest was over when Russell bowled a full one which smashed its way onto the batsman’s stumps. Another full deliver cleaned up Tony Palladino as Derbyshire fell eight runs short.
Earlier in the night, skipper Daryl Mitchell once again led by example as his unbeaten 68 helped the visitors to a total of 177-5. New Zealander Colin Munro made 65 – his best in Worcestershire colours – to also help to a solid final score.
The total was impressive given the fact the visitors found themselves in trouble early on with the loss of two early wickets. Richard Oliver was out in just the third ball of the match when he was bowled by spinner Wes Durston and Tom Kholer-Cadmore fell in the fourth for just 6.
But a 98 run partnership between Mitchell and Munro saw the visitors get back on track. Alexi Kervezzee also contributed hitting two sixes in his 25.