Josh Inglis' second Blast ton sends Worcestershire crashing out
Blast's leading scorer makes Rapids pay for early drop as Birmingham Bears squeeze into quarter-finals
Leicestershire 171 for 3 (Inglis 118*) beat Worcestershire 169 for 6 (Barnard 43*) by seven wickets
Josh Inglis' second century of the Vitality Blast season denied Worcestershire Rapids a place in the quarter-finals as Leicestershire Foxes finished their North Group season with a seven-wicket victory at the Uptonsteel County Ground.
After victory for the Birmingham Bears earlier, the Rapids had to win to deny their Midlands rivals the final qualifying position but their 169 for 6 proved insufficient as Inglis made them pay for a dropped catch on 14 by hitting eight sixes and 10 fours in his career-best unbeaten 118 off 61 balls to see the Foxes home with 13 balls to spare.
Ed Barnard had hit 43 from 24 balls to top score for the Rapids, Jake Libby making 35 and Ross Whiteley 31 but no-one could go on to make the big innings that was needed. The Foxes finish out of the quarter-final places but have the distinction of having the group stage's top run-scorer and top wicket-taker in their ranks, Inglis totalling 531 runs and Afghanistan pace bowler Naveen-ul-Haq 26 wickets.
Having won the toss and opted to bat, the Rapids were 49 for 2 after the Powerplay. Jack Haynes lofted a Naveen slower ball to mid-on, Brett D'Oliveira made three off-side boundaries but clipped a Gavin Griffiths full toss to square leg.
Daryl Mitchell soon picked out long-off, his demise elevating left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson to all-time leading Foxes T20 wicket-taker on 70, overtaking Claude Henderson's 69, and at 74 for 3 at halfway, the Rapids had work to do.
They suffered a blow when Libby, looking well set, was stumped, and Ben Cox was run out at the non-striker's end as Colin Ackermann deflected a firmly-struck Whiteley drive on to the stumps in his follow through. The Foxes skipper damaged a finger in the process and took no further part.
Whiteley and Barnard added 76 in seven overs before the former was brilliantly caught on the square-leg boundary by Ben Mike, Barnard picking up five fours and one extraordinary checked drive for six off Griffiths.
In reply, the Foxes were level pegging with the Rapids at 49 for 2 in the Powerplay, although it would have been advantage to the visitors had the Inglis chance to Mitchell at short extra off Ben Dwarshuis been held.
The home side lost Lewis Hill and were only narrowly ahead at 79 for 3 from 10, but back-to-back sixes for Inglis off Pennington began to take the game away.
Inglis passed fifty from 33 and needed just 22 balls to move into three figures, attacking Barnard, D'Oliveira and Dwarshuis in turn to delight the home crowd before driving Morris over his head for the winning four.
"It was a nice way to finish my season here," Inglis said. "I've got good starts in all my innings at Grace Road without going on to get a score, so to finish in that way and get the win was really good, because I've really enjoyed my time here."
Alex Gidman, Worcestershire's coach, said: "It's been a tough but really enjoyable campaign for us so I'm disappointed for the players and supporters that we couldn't get over the line and get into that quarter-final.
"We thought we batted really well to get back into it and put up a competitive score that was about par, but that was an exceptional innings from Inglis and this is the beauty of the game - that one guy can bat magnificently like that and win the game single-handedly."