FP Trophy (at New Road): Worcestershire 307-2 (VS Solanki 144no, PA Jaques 102) beat Warwickshire 303-6 (KC Sangakkara 115, DL Maddy 106) by eight wickets.
At 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, spectators at New Road could be forgiven for thinking they would never see a better one-day innings than the gem just played by Kumar Sangakkara.
The Sri Lankan, playing only his second List A innings for Warwickshire, certainly produced a marvellous century, in taking his side to their highest score in List A cricket against their local rivals.
Yet only hours later it was upstaged as Vikram Solanki led Worcestershire to only their second victory in any competition since April 22. Indeed Solanki, with the 12th List A century of his career, batted with such supreme skill that his side cantered to an eight-wicket victory with 24 balls remaining. Easy.
It was a victory that defied logic. Warwickshire had already set the biggest total in List A matches between these sides. Unbeaten in all competitions, they must have fancied their chances against a team that had won only one of their first six matches at home this season. No side had ever successfully chased 300 to win here. Indeed, Warwickshire were only the ninth side to pass 300 on this ground in 45 years of List A cricket.
Instead, Worcestershire's openers posted the highest stand in List A cricket at this ground. Phil Jaques, so out of form in recent weeks, combined with his captain to post 223 in 32 overs as the limitations of the Warwickshire attack were laid bare.
They didn't bowl too badly. But their spin-ners were comprehensively out-performed by Worcestershire's and the seamers failed to deliver enough yorkers. The truth is that, with Dale Steyn appearing jaded, this attack is plain; while the captain can change the bowler he is often not changing the bowling.
And, more pertinently, Solanki (128 balls, 13 fours and two sixes) batted beautifully. In a match of four centuries, his was of the highest class and most influential. He not only allowed no margin for error, he guided many good deliveries into gaps and ran Warwickshire ragged. Timing the ball as few can, he mixed deliciously deft glances with thunderous drives and pulls.
One straight drive for six, off Tim Groenewald, cleared the stands and carried into New Road while Steyn was punished for three fours in an over as Solanki feasted on the extra pace.
"We didn't do anything differently," a phlegmatic Maddy said. "They just batted fantastically well. He [Solanki] played a brilliant innings. When a guy bats like that there's not much you can do. He didn't give us a chance.
"There's a lot of disappointment in our dressing-room. We've allowed other teams to catch us up. Still, we knew we had to win two out of our last three games and that's still the case."
For the second time in the weekend, however, Warwickshire had cause to rue dropped catches. Jaques (105 balls, none fours and six), on only ten, was reprieved when Sangakkara and Tim Ambrose conspired to miss a chance offered off Lee Daggett. Ben Smith was dropped by Ian Bell at mid-on when the batsman had scored only 13. Daggett was, again, the unlucky bowler.
Warwickshire may also rue the fact that they lost momentum in mid-innings. After Sangakkara was needlessly run out - sent back by Maddy after setting off for an impossible single - Warwickshire scored only 104 in the final 19 overs. The bowling of Ray Price was, in the context of the match, miserly and was, in its own way, as crucial an ingredient in the victory as the batting of his colleagues.
Bell, whose return pushed Jonathan Trott out of the side, certainly lacked fluency while his colleagues seemed pre-occupied in trying to hit every ball for six rather than running it around for ones and twos.
Earlier, Sangakkara (99 balls, 15 fours and a six) and Maddy (118 balls, seven fours and two sixes) posted a record second-wicket partnership for Warwickshire. Overcoming the loss of Ian Westwood in the first over, their 199 in 31 overs just surpassed the 197 set by K D Smith and Alvin Kallicharran against Oxfordshire in 1984 and seemed to have set their side on route to the semi-finals.
Maddy's second List A century for Warwickshire (and 11th in all) was a fine innings. As powerful as ever off the back foot, he pulled Doug Bollinger and Gareth Batty out of the attack but was generally content to play the support role.
Sangakkara was wonderful. A flicked six off Kabir Ali was a highlight but his back-foot drives were quite spectacular and, had he not been run out, an impregnable total would surely have been posted.
Could this be the spark that ignites Worcestershire's season? Solanki admitted he "couldn't have played better" and expressed his "great confidence in the group of players" at New Road.
"We knew we had to make use of the field restrictions in the first 15 overs," he said. "And it was particularly pleasing to be there at the end. The guys did a fine job towards the end of the Warwickshire innings and we can take confidence from this performance."
Worcestershire seem to reserve their best form for these derby matches. They have won seven of the last eight meetings in limited-overs cricket between these sides and have done Warwickshire's chances of progressing to the semi-finals no favours. With Durham and Nottinghamshire winning, Warwickshire find themselves out of the top two with only two matches to play. The final match, against high-flying Durham (at Edgbaston on Wednesday June 13), looks crucial.
Credit too, to Worcestershire groundsman, Tim Packwood. This ground was under water barely three months ago so to produce a pitch - glued as it was - that produced so many runs is a fine effort.