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Clarke, Whiteley lead Worcestershire to victory through gloom

Worcestershire 169 for 5 (Whiteley 41*) beat Nottinghamshire 273 for 6 (Lumb 104, Leach 3-50) by five wickets (DLS method)
Scorecard

The hardy spectators that kept the faith through the long hours of rain and cold - and goodness me it was cold - were treated to a minor classic at New Road as Worcestershire snatched a five-wicket victory with 12 balls to spare.

In conditions that might have prepared the participants more for a polar expedition than a global ODI tournament - the sort of conditions in which a penguin wouldn't go out without a bobble hat and scarf (they find it terribly hard to find gloves that fit) - Worcestershire were grateful for a couple of classy innings from Joe Clarke and Ross Whiteley for securing the win.

Faced with an attack containing four England internationals, Worcestershire looked to be sliding to defeat after Moeen Ali and Tom Kohler-Cadmore fell within three deliveries from a Jake Ball over and Samit Patel started by conceding a single off his first over.

But Clarke, demonstrating his range of stoke, his intelligence and his calm, ensured his side were ahead of the rate, before Whiteley, striking the ball unusually cleanly, provided a late assault. Joe Leach finished things off with a couple of lusty blows.

Nottinghamshire might feel they were the victims of something of a mugging. And it is true that, both losing the toss and seeing Worcestershire's total adjusted by the DLS method probably counted against them. But Worcestershire's batsmen were obliged to bat in remarkably poor light - as dark as most watching could recall in a professional game - and, at that time the target was announced, it didn't seem especially generous.

That it was made to seem so was largely due to Clarke. With Nottinghamshire's bowlers hitting an immaculate length - Stuart Broad bowled with pace and Luke Fletcher hardly bowled a poor ball - scoring opportunities were limited. But Clarke, recognising that there was a gap at very fine third man, played a couple of lovely ramp strokes off the seamers, slog-swept Patel for six and then drove Fletcher over mid-on for four more. He is, aged 20, a substantial talent with a wonderful future.

When he went - Notts utilised a fine third-man, almost a backstop, to cut-off his ramp and he fell to a catch at cover trying to hit over the top - Whiteley, as mercurial a talent as exists in the English game at present, swung Broad over midwicket for six, then thumped Patel for 18 in an over to break the back of the chase. It was terrific batting against a high-quality attack.

For the first few hours, this was a pretty humdrum encounter. Nottinghamshire reached what could probably be considered a par score with Michael Lumb registering the eighth List A century of his career, Patel timing the ball beautifully and Billy Root enjoying a pleasing debut.

On a slow, slightly two-paced surface that provided little assistance to batsman or bowler, Lumb played a somewhat old-fashioned innings. Unable to hit through the line of the ball, he was reliant on waiting for anything short, wide or over-pitched and Worcestershire were quite happy to make him wait. While there were a couple of aggressive strokes - one pick-up for six off John Hastings stuck in the mind - Lumb was generally content to play percentage cricket.

Patel gave the innings impetus. He thrashed 20 in five balls at one stage, using his feet and strength to loft Shantry for six and two fours in three successive balls, before falling to a catch as he tried to hit a second straight six off Moeen.

Root then belied his inexperience with an innings that showed much of the inventive flair of his brother - the nudges, the deflections and the quick running - without, at this stage the big strokes. Moeen was the most economical of the Worcestershire attack, but their seamers were generally accurate and maintained their line of attack - yorkers outside off stump - with impressive discipline.

After several rain interruptions Worcestershire's target was reduced to 168 runs in 22. And, with rain and bad light threatening to bring the end at any moment, and Worcestershire bobbing around the DLS target like a sickly swimmer, every moment took on drama and importance.

Perhaps, had James Pattinson played (he was rested but will play in Saturday's high-profile encounter against Yorkshire), it might have been different. But this was not a case of a Nottinghamshire team containing eight internationals having a bad day; it was a case of a Worcestershire XI containing two internationals playing smart, classy cricket. It was a fine, entertaining match.