Patel's blaze of glory can't save Nottinghamshire
Warwickshire 373 and 236 (Chopra 82, Trott 59, Fletcher 4-25, Patel 4-71) beat Nottinghamshire 383 (Lumb 108, Hutton 59, Mullaney 56, Clarke 4-72) and 173 (Patel 124, Barker 4-38) by 53 runs
Despite the intervention of the weather, which delayed the start of the final day until a quarter to three, a terrific match was granted a fitting finish and a positive result after Samit Patel delivered what will surely be recalled as one of the innings of the season even when this summer has run its full course.
Warwickshire's winning margin, which takes them to the top of the Division One table, was comfortable in the end but felt anything but after the sometime England batsman, such a joy to watch when everything comes together and such a source of frustration that he cannot seem to make it happen just a little more often, had threatened to conjure the most unlikely of victories for his side from what had appeared a hopeless position.
Wobbling at 21 for 3 overnight and needing 206 more runs from 47 overs when a drenched outfield was finally dry enough for play to begin, Nottinghamshire seemed down and out when Keith Barker quickly dismissed Greg Smith and Riki Wessels with consecutive swinging deliveries to have them 25 for 5.
Patel was in next and it seemed a victory of sorts that he was able to survive the hat-trick ball. No one could have imagined that, a couple of hours later, Warwickshire would have nine players on the boundary, even with Nottinghamshire nine wickets down, still unsure that the seemingly impossible was not about to happen.
In broad terms it had been a pretty dismal effort by the home side, especially after their bowlers, Luke Fletcher in particular, had given themselves such a great chance by dismissing Warwickshire for 236 on Tuesday. But Patel was on a different level.
Despite losing partner after partner, he just kept on chasing the target and was in such fine touch, his timing of the ball near perfect, that the runs just kept coming. He reached 51 off 36 balls, having hit 10 fours, but that was just the beginning.
Despite Brendan Taylor being unable to build on a stubborn 26, Chris Read giving his wicket away, unusually, with a carelessly top-edged sweep and Brett Hutton falling soon afterwards, Patel was of a mind that it might as well be all or nothing.
Hitting his namesake, Jeetan Patel, for three sixes in four balls, two driven high into the Radcliffe Road stand, the next slog-swept over deep midwicket, he suddenly make the target seem attainable. Another huge hit off the Kiwi off-spinner took him to a century off just 68 balls, the fastest of the season.
Eight down became nine when Chris Wright clipped the top of Jackson Bird's off stump with still 73 to get but then came three more sixes in one Patel over and Warwickshire still didn't dare to bring everyone in. When at last, having taken to slogging for the first time with a genuine No 11 at the other end in Harry Gurney, he sliced one high into the leaden sky and a clutch of fielders tried to decide whose catch it might be, there was palpable relief when Sam Hain managed to judge its descent and hold on.
"It was as good an innings as I've seen for a while and it was getting quite nervy for those of us watching," Warwickshire's director of cricket Dougie Brown said afterwards. "Wherever we put the fielders, he just hit it over their heads.
"Even though we had them three down overnight and we fancied we could conjure a win if we got on for 50 overs, we knew that someone could come up with a cameo innings and it only needed someone to hang around with him.
"Fortunately, we were able to keep chipping away with wickets and it was really pleasing to get over the line because from 17 for 4 on the first morning we played at times some very good cricket."
His opposite number, Nottinghamshire's Mick Newell, said he had no issues with Patel's refusal to give up the chase, even though the odds were always against it coming off as wickets fell at the other end.
"It was an amazing finish to a really good game," he said. "Only Samit really got to grips with what was required. We have only lost by 53 with still 13 overs to go so I'm not going to criticise a bloke after he has played like that. With a small outfield he felt the best way was to try to hit sixes and clear the ropes and knock the deficit down.
"But when one bloke got 75 percent of the runs you have to be a bit disappointed. Some of our players will have to reflect that they have not really had the best of games. You can manage with only eight or nine playing well but not when it is only six or seven."