Worcestershire sealed a place in the quarter-finals of the NatWest Blast T20 when they overcame a sluggish pitch and a determined Derbyshire side to win the North Group match at Derby by four wickets.
Derbyshire skipper Wes Durston hit 32 and Billy Godleman 33 in a total of 149 for 8 with Saeed Ajmal taking 2 for 21 in four overs but despite Richard Oliver’s 45 from 38 balls, the Royals also found it hard to get the ball away against tight bowling with Alex Hughes taking 2 for 21.
But Joe Leach hit an unbeaten 18 from 12 balls to secure victory and condemn Derbyshire to finishing bottom of the group.
the Falcons wanted to end on a high but were soon in trouble against disciplined bowling which was rewarded with three wickets in the powerplay.
Joe Leach found some extra bounce to have Hamish Rutherford caught at slip in the second over and although Chesney Hughes twice dispatched him to the mid-wicket boundary, he was bowled making room off the last ball.
Shiv Thakor carved Ed Barnard low to point in the fifth over and again it was Durston, the Falcons leading run scorer in the T20, who led the fightback by sweeping Brett D’Oliveira’s first ball over square leg for six and pulling the leg-spinner wide of long on for four.
But when he tried to launch Ajmal into the pavilion, he failed to clear long on where Barnard took a well-judged catch to end a stand of 47 from 38 balls with Godleman who swung Daryl Mitchell high over midwicket for two sixes to bring up the 100.
But he sliced the next ball to point and when Wayne Madsen skied a drive at Ajmal to deep mid off in the 15th over, Derbyshire were 102 for 6 but Alex Hughes and Tom Knight added 39 from 27 balls to get the total past 140.
With the ball not coming on to the bat, Derbyshire were still in the game if they could take early wickets and Thakor struck in the fifth over when Mitchell pulled him to deep midwicket.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore cut Alex Hughes to backward point in the ninth over as a combination of spin and seam denied the Royals a boundary for 21 balls and 85 from the last 10 overs was far from straight-forward.
Richard Oliver pulled Nathan Rimmington for his seventh four but then skied a drive to long on off the last ball of the 12th over and the pressure was starting to tell when D’Oliveira miscued Alex Hughes to point.
Worcestershire needed a big over and Munro delivered by taking 16, including a six over midwicket, from the 14th bowled by Durston but he then chipped Greg Cork to deep square leg in the next over.
With 45 needed from the last five overs, Whiteley drove Thakor over long off for six and then swung Rimmington over long on but was then yorked going for another maximum although four byes off the last ball reduced the target to 22 from 18 balls.
Leach drove a Rimmington no ball for four from an over which cost 10 and the Royals got home with three balls to spare.