Northamptonshire defeated Worcestershire by 38 runs By Ged Scott at New Road
Worcestershire's midseason slide was highlighted under the New Road lights last night as they edged a step nearer National League relegation.
Shoaib Akhtar did at least do his team-mates the courtesy of turning up this time but he might as well not have bothered to turn his arm over as Steve Rhodes' side once again fired on too few cylinders.
A sequence of just one league win now in seven games - at a time when Worcestershire have also lost three County Championship games on the trot - has not improved the mood in the New Road camp.
And a season which was always likely to be disrupted by the departure of coach Tom Moody is now in danger of running seriously aground.
After Northamptonshire rattled up a massive total of 275 for four, the hosts could only tally 237 for nine in their 45 overs.
Worcestershire made a tight enough start in their bid to restrict the visitors, with just seven runs conceded from the first four overs. But Northants were already starting to pick up the scoring rate when they lost their first wicket for 43 in the tenth.
Bilal Shafayat clipped Kabir Ali to square leg to depart but that simply brought one of Northamptonshire's two former sons of Moseley, Usman Afzaal, to the crease. And, along with Australian Martin Love, the ex-England man helped amass a lively 155 in 26 overs.
All of the Worcestershire attack suffered, but it was their allinternational pace attack of Shoaib and Kabir who returned the most expensive figures.
In Kabir's case, he can only look back and wonder what might have happened had his skipper Vikram Solanki held onto a chance from Love at first slip when he had made only three.
Love was to give another much harder offering when Gareth Batty found his inside edge on 51 and Batty was again the unlucky bowler when a diving David Leatherdale put down Afzaal off a very sharp chance at extra cover.
Love went in the next over for 76, stumped by Jamie Pipe after giving Ray Price the charge but Afzaal went on to make his second highest oneday score, 119 off 103 balls, before Kabir finally got one through his defences.
That left a daunting target for Worcestershire, especially given the added challenge of batting second under lights.
Worcestershire proved that sort of total could be chased down on this same floodlit stage almost four years ago to the day when they successfully chased 275 to beat Durham.
But the nearest thing to lightning striking twice were the extremely irritating fireworks that went off every time the home side hit a four. Thankfully for the eardrums, that proved to be with increasing infrequency as the innings wore on.
But it still left the head shaking with wonder at how cricket's gimmick factory continually dream up misguided ways to make the game more exciting - especially as, for safety reasons, the county were forced to close off an entire section of the New Road car park.
At least the local residents will probably never have to worry about floodlights and fireworks again at New Road. Given the lack of home games in the restructured totesport League next season, the growth of the Twenty20 Cup in mid-summer, and the cost of hiring the lights, Worcestershire chief executive Mark Newton had already revealed that last night's floodlit match would be the county's last.
On that basis, it was an unfortunate way to bow out.
The Worcestershire reply got off to a bad start when Stephen Moore went in the first over. And, although there's always hope in any game when Graeme Hick and Solanki are at the crease, they both departed in similar fashion.
Moseley's other former sporting son Steffan Jones, the former rugby union winger, produced a cunningly juicy full toss drifting close to the leg stump with only his second ball, and that was a disappointed Solanki off to the pavilion, trapped lbw.
Hick looked a lot more plum when he went the same way for 52. Astonishingly, it was his first totesport League 50 of the season but, once he had been removed, the rest soon followed.
Shoaib and Pipe put on an unbeaten 50 for the last wicket to provide the only resistance, Shoaib hitting three sixes in his 36 not out and Pipe ending 33 not out.