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Worcestershire kept alive their faint hopes of winning promotion in the Specsavers County Championship when beating Northamptonshire by two wickets after declarations by both teams at New Road.

Set to make 401, they had one of the available 80 overs to spare on completing their highest successful run chase in a home fixture after centuries by Daryl Mitchell – who made 107 not and 103 in the match - and Joe Clarke (125).

Both batsmen were out in a burst of three wickets in five deliveries by Ben Sanderson but Ross Whiteley dipped into his one-day repertoire with four sixes in a 30-ball 45 and Ben Cox made 34 in their stand of 78 in nine overs.

The game swayed again with two wickets in three balls but Joe Leach got his side over the line from the last delivery of the 79th over. The vice-captain reached an unbeaten 33 with a match-winning six off Sanderson, restoring confidence ahead of a must-win game against leaders Essex at Chelmsford, starting next Wednesday.

After a rain-shortened third day, a formula was devised to prevent the game from spluttering into a dead-end, although Alex Wakely may have had some reservations about exposing Northants’ weakened attack to so much bowling on a hot day.

In the morning Worcestershire declared their first innings 350 behind at 201 for three and Northamptonshire halted their second innings at 50 for one.

With the calculations done, the home side made a sticky start. In five overs from Rory Kleinveldt, Brett D’Oliveira was caught low down by wicketkeeper David Murphy and Tom Fell, after a couple of imposing cover drives, shouldered arms when bowled for 22.

With the score 48 for two, the equation at lunchtime was 353 from 65 overs but Mitchell and Clarke batted through the afternoon, increasing the tempo as the partnership developed, and at tea the requirement was down to 202 from 35 overs.

In the final session, Clarke was first to a hundred, his fourth of the season in the championship and fifth in first-class games, after hitting 16 fours from 129 balls. In the process he reached 1,000 runs in a season for the first time.

Mitchell, having earlier passed 10,000 first-class in his career, then completed two centuries in a match for the third time in the championship. In his understated way, he got to the milestone with only nine fours from 160 deliveries.

Their untroubled progress in putting on 232 trimmed the requirement to 133 at around six runs an over but the pressure built up with Sanderson’s intervention.

From the last ball of the 57th over, Mitchell danced forward but succeeded only in slicing a catch to substitute Graeme White at point and from the first of the 59th over George Rhodes clipped a low chance to Wakely at mid-wicket.

What Worcestershire could not afford was to lose Clarke as well but the worst happened when he tried to turn a ball on the leg-side but missed and was given out lbw.

Northants stuck to their task all the way and were rewarded when Chad Barrett yorked Whiteley, Cox chipped Rob Keogh to mid-on and Ed Barnard gave Sanderson a fourth success with a catch behind.



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