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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Jake Libby, Brett D'Oliveira put Worcestershire back on track with eight-wicket win

Jake Libby frees his arms Getty Images

Worcestershire 181 for 2 (Libby 78*, D'Oliveira 67*) beat Durham 178 for 8 (Bedingham 44, Morris 3-37) by eight wickets with three balls to spare

Worcestershire held their nerve to secure a much-needed eight-wicket win over Durham at New Road with three balls to spare.

Career-best scores from Jake Libby and Brett D'Oliveira appeared to have taken Worcestershire to the brink of victory. But when D'Oliveira fell in the 18th over and Ben Raine conceded just six from the next, it left them needing nine off the final over.

The match was put beyond doubt, though, when Ben Cox - Worcestershire's stand-in captain in this format - scooped Brydon Carse for six from the second ball of the final over and followed it up with a straight drive for four. It was Worcestershire's first victory in five games and meant Durham have lost seven successive T20 games at New Road.

While Cox hit the winning runs, this result was set up by Libby and D'Oliveira. The pair added 145 in 15 overs - comfortably Worcestershire's highest for the second wicket against Durham - to overhaul what appeared a challenging target on a used wicket and in increasingly poor light.

As it transpired, the wicket - a hybrid also used for the Yorkshire match - played very well. And while neither Libby nor D'Oliveira would ever be described as the biggest of hitters, they marshalled the chase with calm heads and an aggressive Powerplay that earned them 57 runs and ensured the rate never spiralled beyond their control.

Libby, especially, hit the ball in surprising areas with a succession of straight pulls - think of a poor forehand which sails way beyond the base line - and with D'Oliveira ran brilliantly to put the Durham fielders under pressure.

"We're not the biggest of hitters," D'Oliveira said afterwards. "But we like to knock it into the gaps and turn those singles into twos and, if you get the odd boundary, you are looking at eight or nine an over."

Durham may reflect, however, that some aspects of this result were self-inflicted. Not only was D'Oliveira, on 7, reprieved when Ned Eckersley missed a routine stumping chance off Liam Trevaskis, but they conceded 14 runs in wides, byes and no-balls. With Worcestershire, by the same metric, conceding just five, it may well have been a key factor.

"We missed a few opportunities in the field and didn't execute with the ball at times," Cameron Bancroft, the Durham captain, admitted afterwards. "To take it to the last over defending nine runs, you are not going to win many games doing that."

Earlier Durham looked to be on course for an intimidating total as they took 58 from the Powerplay. David Bedingham, in particular, looked in sparkling form as he unfurled a succession of lofted drives.

But when he was caught behind, edging an attempted late cut, the Durham innings lost its momentum. Nobody else could make more than 26 with the regular loss of wickets stalling any attempt at acceleration. Charlie Morris finished with 3 for 37 - career-best figures in this format - while Ben Dwarshuis produced another impressive display both with the ball and in the field.

It was not an especially happy evening for Ben Stokes. While he managed one straight six, his run-a-ball 20 was, by his standards, a somewhat scratchy affair while he later conceded 40 from his three overs. His first over, which included two wides and a straight six driven by D'Oliveira, cost 16 while three more wides in his final over suggested he was still finding his way back to match fitness after a lay-off due to a badly broken finger.

Still, this was an impressive performance from a Worcestershire side who have experienced a couple of the heaviest defeats in their T20 history in recent days. The result ensures they can look at the run-in of the group stages with a genuine chance of qualifying for the knock-out rounds. It might even prove a crossroads moment in their season.

WORCS 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st10MH WesselsBL D'Oliveira
2nd145BL D'OliveiraJD Libby
3rd26OB CoxJD Libby