Solanki revival secures Worcestershire's return to Lord's

Worcestershire 257-4
Warwickshire 216
Worcs win by 41 runs

If experience in sporting terms is the measure of how much an individual has learned from failure, Worcestershire's Vikram Solanki may look back on his discarding by England last winter as a setback worth suffering.

If experience in sporting terms is the measure of how much an individual has learned from failure, Worcestershire's Vikram Solanki may look back on his discarding by England last winter as a setback worth suffering.

The 28-year-old batsman, richly gifted but still seeking consistency, lost his place in England's one-day side after a dismal run of scores in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The disappointment prompted him to review his technique and, one suspects, his mental toughness as well. On Saturday here, there was evidence to suggest it had worked, when his superb 127, the highest one-day score of his career against first-class opposition, not only propelled Worcestershire to a second successive final in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy but earned Solanki a glowing testimonial from his coach, Tom Moody.

"Through his career, Vikram has promised a lot, as do many players, but now he is delivering," Moody said as Worcestershire contemplated a repeat of last year's final against Gloucestershire and the chance to avenge a feeble defeat.

"He has made a few technical changes," Moody added. "We worked hard with him from Christmas onwards and he is reaping the reward.

"I thought the way he measured the innings was spot on. He took responsibility right from the start and enabled us to get a good competitive total. He has always been a dangerous player and now he is a mature player."

Having won the toss, Warwickshire tried to take advantage of a 10.15 start under overcast skies by opting to bowl first and it was supposed that the combination of humidity and a slow pitch would put Worcestershire at a clear, possibly decisive disadvantage.

But after surviving a strong appeal for leg before wicket from Neil Carter first ball, Solanki, who hit eight fours and three sixes, organised a partnership of 146 in 32 overs for the first wicket with Stephen Moore. Eventually bowled by Dougie Brown, Solanki left to an ovation but declined afterwards to talk up his chances of a recall for the ICC Champions Trophy in September, despite being named in England's provisional squad.

"I really have no thoughts about that," he said. "I'm just trying to focus on contributing for Worcestershire and today is all about the county." Given that platform, there were suspicions that a total of 257 for 4 might have been too little, but the home side's early collapse from 85 to 1 to 115 for 5 lengthened the odds against success and an injury to Trevor Penney, at the height of what looked potentially a match-winning partnership with Dougie Brown, badly disrupted their attempts to build a recovery.

Soon after Penney summoned a runner, Brown was out, ending the partnership of 84 and prompting another collapse in which the last five wickets fell for 17 runs, leaving Warwickshire 41 short.

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