Worcestershire won a final-over thriller against Lancashire’s cricketers at Emirates Old Trafford by two wickets to claim a fourth NatWest T20 Blast win from six matches, with Ben Cox the Rapids’ hero.
The Lightning failed to defend 164 with a ball to spare in a clash which saw both teams struggle at times with the bat and only one half-century scored by visiting captain Daryl Mitchell - 53 off 40 balls.
Lancashire looked favourites to win after making 163 for five, with Worcester needing 44 off 26 balls when they slipped to 120 for five on the back of off-spinner Arron Lilley’s impressive one for 19.
But Cox hit Saqib Mahmood for a six and four late in the 17th over to change things.
Two wickets fell in the last, brilliantly bowled by James Faulkner, as seven off six balls became six off two, only for the wicketkeeper to smash the Australian over wide long-on for six.
He and Brett D’Oliveira, 22 off 14, shared a crucial 37 in 3.2 overs for the sixth wicket. Cox made 22 not out off 13.
Despite the early loss of Liam Livingstone to Joe Leach, Lancashire got off to a flyer as second-wicket pair Ashwell Prince and Karl Brown, who top-scored with 42 off 24 balls, shared 71 in 7.1 overs.
The hosts reached 50 after 4.4 overs, having taken 39 off the third and fourth overs from Jack Shantry and Leach.
But, after Brown’s dismissal, slog-sweeping Saeed Ajmal to deep mid-wicket - 73 for two after 8.3 overs - the hosts’ innings stalled in the face of spin from Ajmal, Moeen Ali and D’Oliveira.
They failed to score a boundary for seven overs from the start of the eighth to the start of the 15th as Prince also fell top-edging a sweep off Ali.
Steven Croft and Faulkner added 49 in 6.3 overs to give this innings impetus before falling late on to Ajmal and Shantry.
Mitchell hit three boundaries off Faulkner in the sixth over as the visitors, who lost Ali caught at mid-wicket off Jordan Clark, moved to 52 for one in reply.
Lilley trapped Tom Kohler-Cadmore lbw sweeping with his second ball, leaving the score at 63 for two in the eighth, before Worcester also struggled through the middle.
Lancashire cut off the twos and prevented a boundary between midway through the seventh over and the five balls into the 13th.
Fifteen came off the 13th from Clark, taking the score to 96 for two, before Mitchell brought up a 32-ball fifty in the next, only to see Colin Munro run out going for two to deep cover.
When Mahmood trapped Mitchell lbw with the first ball of the 15th, Worcester had lost two in two balls and were 108 for four.
Croft took a fine running catch at long-off to help Tom Bailey get rid of Ross Whiteley in the next as the target became 44 off 26 balls, but the visitors prevailed in a helter-skelter finish which saw D’Oliveira, Leach and Ed Barnard fall in the last seven balls.
Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: “To get back on the road with a victory is really important.
“Lancashire are a really good Twenty20 team. There aren’t many teams that come here and beat them. To take the two points, we’re absolutely delighted.
“It was a really good game of cricket, and great fun to play for the boys. It was also great viewing. I’m sure the people who turned up will go home impressed with a really good game of cricket.”
Lancashire captain Steven Croft said: “We had times in the driving seat and so did they. The way Jimmy Faulkner bowled, I couldn’t see him (Cox) hitting it to the longest boundary on the ground and going over the ropes. I didn’t see that one coming.
“It was a good game of cricket. We possibly could have got 10 more runs, into the 170s, but I think 163 was defendable.”