Ben Duckett and Joe Clarke crafted crucial half-centuries as Nottinghamshire sealed a thrilling three-day LV= Insurance County Championship victory over Worcestershire at Trent Bridge.
Duckett made 78 and Clarke hit an unbeaten 61 as the Green and Golds overhauled their fourth-innings target of 233 off the final ball of Day Three to take home 21 points.
Having resumed on 225/5 with an overall lead of 118, Worcestershire passed 300 in the morning session and went on to reach 322/8 at the first break as overnight centurion Ed Barnard took lunch on 153*.
The Pears’ innings was eventually wrapped up for 339 with Barnard the not out man on 163, Dane Paterson taking the final scalp to secure ten wickets in the match for the first time in a Nottinghamshire shirt.
That handed Peter Moores’ men the chance to chase victory, and Duckett seized the initiative with his second half-century of the match and fifth in a row, to break the back of the pursuit.
Clarke then took up the mantle and, aided by valuable contributions from the middle order, ultimately steered the hosts to their second Championship victory in a row.
Earlier, the sun warmed up West Bridgford throughout the morning to ensure that conditions were pleasant as play began, and the visitors’ stout sixth-wicket stand was finally cracked less than an hour into the day.
Stuart Broad was the man who broke through, finding Ben Cox’s outside edge for 55 as the Pears' wicketkeeper fended at a short one, before Luke Fletcher followed it up in the next over by pinning Josh Baker lbw for one.
However, Barnard and Adam Finch stood firm against the hosts’ bowling attack, adding 79 for the ninth wicket as the former brought up his maiden career 150 from 274 deliveries.
Finch nicked Broad through to Tom Moores to provide Nottinghamshire with some joy immediately prior to lunch, before Barnard and Charlie Morris negotiated the remaining nine deliveries to reach the first break.
Morris did not survive for long after lunch, though, as Fletcher uprooted his off stump in just his third over of the afternoon, before Paterson took care of last man Dillon Pennington, caught by a diving Duckett in the slips.
Now with the task of chasing down a total, the hosts did suffer the early loss of Ben Slater, who was caught low down by Ed Pollock at first slip for two.
But Duckett and Haseeb Hameed added 83 from just 110 balls, with the left-hander sweeping spinner Josh Baker for three fours in the same over and reaching his fifty in just 46 balls.
Hameed was bowled by Barnard for 24 just shy of tea with the score at 85/2, but Duckett and new man Clarke safely steered Notts through to Tea with the addition of 23 further runs.
The number required continued to decrease as Duckett kept up a rapid scoring rate, but Morris found his outside edge a quarter of an hour into the evening session to deliver a dent to the chase.
That failed to take much away from Clarke, though, as he and new man Lyndon James kept things ticking over through the evening, taking the hosts to 171/3.
James did fall to Baker for 23, caught by Barnard, with 62 still required. Steven Mullaney made 10 before also departing, this time caught by Baker off Adam Finch, as the hosts slipped to 182/5.
The constant throughout, though, was Clarke, and he continued to provide the backbone of the latter stages of the chase with Moores for company, reaching his half-century just moments before the win was sealed.
In poetic circumstances, it was indeed Clarke who struck the winning runs, crunching Baker through midwicket off the final regulation ball of the day to confirm victory and strengthen Notts’ position at the summit of Division Two.
Be More Outlaw: The 2022 Vitality Blast at Trent Bridge
Notts Outlaws, the 2017 and 2020 Vitality Blast winners, return to T20 action at Trent Bridge this summer from Friday 27 May to Friday 1 July. Pin your green and gold colours to the mast by securing your seats now.
Friday 27 May, Notts Outlaws vs Worcestershire Rapids: Secure your seats…
Sunday 29 May, Lightning vs Southern Vipers (Charlotte Edwards Cup) and Notts Outlaws vs Northamptonshire Steelbacks: Secure your seats…
Tuesday 31 May, Notts Outlaws vs Lancashire Lightning: Secure your seats…
Friday 17 June, Notts Outlaws vs Birmingham Bears: Secure your seats…
Tuesday 21 June, Notts Outlaws vs Leicestershire Foxes: Secure your seats…
Thursday 23 June, Notts Outlaws vs Derbyshire Falcons: Secure your seats…
Friday 1 July, Notts Outlaws vs Durham: Secure your seats…